Anyone who’s been on Twitter for even a few minutes knows how much of a distraction it can be.
Now imagine you’re a high-profile student-athlete on Twitter, and anyone with a Twitter handle and Internet access can tell you exactly what they think of your latest performance, good or bad, in 140-character chunks.
Of course, Twitter is a two-way street -- giving a struggling athlete a place to vent after a tough loss. But that isn’t always a good thing, and
That’s one reason Boston College coach Steve Donahue has implemented a no-tweet policy for his Eagles while they’re in season.
“We’ve talked about it quite a bit, from Twitter and Instagram and Vine,” Donahue said Thursday at the Coaches vs. Cancer event at TD Garden.
“You’re hip,” host and ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman quipped.
“Yeah, I’ve got a 17-year-old at home,” Donahue said, drawing laughs from the crowd.
“I don’t think it’s something that we’d all agree on, probably, but for our team I sat down our older guys and mentioned that I think we need to control it,” he said. “You can do something at this point in your life that can really affect you.
“And I think it’s my responsibility to try to help them with that, so that after an emotional loss they don’t tweet something that they regret. So our rule is that Oct. 1, they’re done with that ‘til the end of the season.”
Donahue doesn’t make players delete their accounts or anything that severe.
“They can be on it, they can read it, they can’t put ‘em out themselves,” he said.
When the other six coaches on the stage were asked if they have similar policies for social media, BU’s Joe Jones piped up immediately.
“Ours is the first day of school,” Jones said.
“Really? I’m gonna tell my guys that, they think I’m bad,” Donahue joked. “At least they can chat with their friends across the country before [the tweet ban starts Oct. 1].”
Holy Cross’ Milan Brown said the Crusaders don’t really have a policy, counting on players to use common sense. Harvard’s Tommy Amaker said the Crimson don’t have a ban, but they try to teach student-athletes the possible side effects of social media.
“We just have one rule in our program: Don’t do anything detrimental to yourself and to the program,” Amaker said.
New Celtics coach Brad Stevens weighed in, too.
“We tried to flip it a little bit,” he said, “where we talked about do nothing detrimental to the program, make sure you’re representing yourself well, understand that you can ruin your reputation in one act and also understand that when you type something it can be taken in a lot of different ways.
“Because as we all know, 93 percent of communication is nonverbal and that takes that 93 percent of it out of it. We try to say use it to be a vehicle to promote positive things that you’re interested in.”
Stevens pointed to Ronald Nored, his former Butler player and current Celtics assistant, as an example of using Twitter in a positive way.
With practice getting underway and the Oct. 1 deadline approaching, a couple of Eagles took to Twitter over the weekend to say their social media good-byes:
No more twitter until the end of the season #socialmediawithdrawals
— Drew Jacobs (@DJacobs32) September 29, 2013
Last tweet till the season is over! Gotta have focus and tunnel vision to achieve our goals! Be back on twitter when it's over #WeAreBC