Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tweet This: NFL Pro Bowl Players Get to Share Thoughts Real-Time

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tweet This: NFL Pro Bowl Players Get to Share Thoughts Real-Time

Article excerpt

The NFL is hoping to kick up its Pro Bowl ratings Sunday by allowing players to Tweet from the sidelines during the game. Some think that's a silly distraction for players.

As Super Bowl week kicks off Sunday with the Pro Bowl playoff in Hawaii, the NFL is hoping to kick up its ratings with the announcement that players will now be allowed to Tweet from the sidelines during the game.

The league has a strict policy against using social media during playtime for the regular season games, but as spokesman Jon Zimmer said from Honolulu where the game will be played, "We are always looking for ways to experiment with new ideas."

"This game is a good venue for us to try out some new things," he said.

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To be sure, social media has exploded as a way to connect fans and players more directly. But while the move may make sense from a marketing point of view, some critics question the intrusion of more social media opportunities into a professional game setting.

"I don't think this is a good idea," says Kelly Lux, the Online Community Manager at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University in New York, and host of Community Manager Chat.

The players are there to play football, she says via email, "not to Tweet."

"Their focus needs to be on the game," she says. "Asking or encouraging them to participate in a conversation on Twitter would take their head out of the game." For now, this new policy is strictly relegated to the annual all-star game. There is a clear firewall between what will be allowed for this singular event and policies about Twitter and other social media during the normal season, Mr. Zimmer points out. And the routine for tweeting during the game this Sunday will be tightly controlled.

Players will be allowed to stop by computers set up on the 20- yard line and tap out a 140 character shout-out to fans - under the vigilant eyes of NFL representatives.

"Nothing will go out that hasn't been checked first," says Zimmer, who adds, "Obviously, they are not allowed to be doing this if they have any on-field duties. …

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