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Sportsmen 2.0 : The use of twitter by sportsmen

Antoine Harari

For many people, Twitter is little more than just another social network that was added after the Facebook frenzy. This is why more than a quarter of the 500 millions users possess inactive accounts. However, as this article demonstrates, sportsmen of all kind capitalised on the opportunities Twitter provides. Far from being a hindrance, the ability to only use 140 characters actually suits sportsmen, as it replicates the standard answer given in a post match interview. It was initially sold to them as an excellent way to promote their career and strengthen their relationship with their fan base, and by adding pictures of themselves in their daily lives, it allowed fans to relate to these figures that were, in many ways, just like them. Here lies one of the numerous twitter paradoxes: in a world where sportsmen are more protected than ever before, Twitter provides a way of infiltrating their star life.

There is also a negative side to the technology however, and Twitter has also provided a clear demonstration that athletes should think twice before ‘shooting from the hip’. and writing what they think. The number of headlines created by sportsmen’s tweets are already hard to count, one thing is certain: for some football players, the microblogging website is a way to shout out loud what they are thinking at any time of the day.

Football’s two most famous examples are Joey Barton and Rio Ferdinand.


There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Joey Barton official twitter account


Rio Ferdinand official Twitter Account


The impact on the franchise’s public relation :

Given the professionalisation of sport franchises, football club’s internal policies are regularly breached by their players’ emotional tweets and their communication strategies are severely compromised. A recent example is the football player Djibril Cissé who got offended by the reamark from one of his supporters  suggesting that he couldn’t hit “a cow’s a** with a banjo.” Cissé then tweeted the exact address of his club’s training ground and invited the supporter to: “come and have a little chat.” This is a story which resembles the scandal involving Wayne Rooney, who threatened to silence, permanently, a Liverpool supporter who insulted him via his Twitter account.

‘I will put u asleep within 10 seconds hope u turn up if u don’t gonna tell everyone ur scared u little nit. I’ll be waiting.’

Though the majority of these tweets are uninteresting, some of them have put entire national federations into trouble. The most recent episode was the clash between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand; the story started with the accusation of Rio’s brother Anton that the Chelsea defender had racially abused him.

The story became so big that Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand were soon implicated. The first intervened in support of John Terry but his testimony was deemed untrustworthy by the English Federation.  Angered by the decision of the FA, Ashley Cole tweeted : “Oh yeaaaah that’s right I lied.. Bunch of t****”. Although he and his club presented their apologies almost immediately, Cole was condemned to pay a £130,000 fine. In the meantime, infuriated by Cole’s testimony, Rio Ferdinand labelled him a “Choc Ice”, a slang term denoting a black man with ‘white’ sympathies. Many London newspapers talked about the story for weeks and to say that it didn’t look good is an understatement. In Switzerland there was a similar affair during the Olympics, when a Swiss national player in the bitterness of a loss against South Korea lost his sense and tweeted :

“I want to beat up all South Koreans ! Bunch of mentally handicapped retards ! ”

Immediately after the outburst, the player’s account was closed  and he was banned from the national team.

Morganella twitter outburst

The use of companies to maintain ghost accounts :

The increasing influence of sportsmen leads to an expansion in their marketing potential, not slow to envisage the effect Twitter could have,  sponsors soon realised the potential lying behind specific accounts, and the vast swathes of population they could interact with. With 14 million followers, Cristiano Ronaldo is among the highest profile football tweeters.Not surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo is regularly advertising Nike products directly on Twitter, complete with pictures and comments for his fans.

Cristiano and his new shoes


The most recent one shows him playing all kind of instruments and wearing different football kits. The use of social network as a commercial tool is increasing and its should come as no surprise.Logo of the company In the case of Cristiano Ronaldo we can talk of the use of  a ‘ghost writer’ for his account. One of the reasons behind this statement is that his tweets are mostly advertising, and not very frequent Furthermore, the use of perfect English makes it hard to believe that it is entirely the work of Cristiano himself. Doubt becomes certainty when we read a disclaimer added on his profile saying that:  Digital Artist entertainment inc. is in charge of the content of the account, but also that they can use the personal data of his followers and sell them to other companies.  This company is one of the many that proposes to ‘take care’ of an individual’s Twitter account for a certain prize, and also to post a certain number of tweets every week depending on the agreement.
Company offering ghost twitter services

The Twitter paradox :

Here we can see the controversial character of athletes’ use of Twitter : on one hand we have the impossible task for the major club’s PR to limit the damage created by their players’ outbursts. On the other hand, however, the use of Twitter as a new tool of advertisement is hard to deny. Whilst the fan is informed on a daily basis of what his idol thinks, simultaneously, under the cover of a fake bond, diverse companies are trying to promote their merchandise. These are the two extremes that you can find on the microblogging website. In a way we could argue that the outbursts of athletes are true to real life conversations, and therefore that they are the ultimate proof that we are dealing with real human beings that possess feelings and are not afraid to express them. In fact, without this, would Twitter just be a boring ensemble of diverse hidden advertisement pages? The real fans would then see no interest in the social network as it would fulfil the same kind of role as a fan page on Facebook.

Twitter also allows us to learn things about players that they would never be revealed in a formal interview.  It is interesting to speculate on the future of the sport’s own response to Twitter. Will it be to restrict the player’s access to social networks? Or rather to give them communication courses on what can and can’t be said on the web? When we see the PR manager of Liverpool Jen Chang being sacked because he threatened a fan to cancel his season ticket it does raises some questions. One thing is clear to this writer however, between the politically incorrect account of Joey Barton and the incredibly boring account of Cristiano Ronaldo my choice is quickly made and I hope yours is too.

1  Ben Dir’s Blog on BBC Website :


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Professor iPad: Apple meets education

Jessica Richard 

I don’t have an iPad nor children, for the moment. However during my random train path, in a queue or watching popular videos (lolcats, babies, puppies), I couldn’t miss the fact that many mini-humans already owned an iPad and were very comfortable with it. It seems natural in their small skilful hands, like they have been using them forever: scrolling, zooming, switching applications and so on. 

This scene seems more and more natural for me but,

  • What implications does it have on the education of the kids at school and at home?
  • How does this technological tool reshape education?
  • What are the advantages and the downsides of “Professor iPad”?

This is a vast controversy subject and still currently debated. Blogs articles unleash parent’s passions, which are always very reactive when it comes to their heirs. My purpose is not to defend the iPad invasion in the classrooms or to cry wolf but to give an overview of the possibility of an interaction between traditional education and a virtual one.

Mummy, can I have iPad for breakfast please ?

Amazing isn’t it? These kinds of video are blooming on the net for the delight of our zygomatics. What to think of the intrusion of the iPads in our home? A New York Times blogger, David Pogue, has already asked himself: iPad or not ipad that is the question? In his article “A parent struggle with a child’s iPad addiction” the journalist questions his son’s addiction (in his definition of an addiction) for his iPad. After analyzing the benefits and the dangers of the interaction between his son and his tablet, Pogue concluded as follow:

For now, I’m trying to live by the mantra, “Moderation in all things.” As long as iPad use is part of a balanced diet of more physical play and non-electronic activities, I think my little guy will probably be O.K.

The article gave rise to no less than 947 comments…

Source: David Pogue’s blog

Following the impact of the post, David Pogue got interviewed on that subject:

So, a key seems to be parental mediation between the kids and the tablet, which is also recommended for television, video games, telephony, internet access and so on.

The pedopsychiatrist Pierre Delion explains, in an interview, that the traditional games shouldn’t be replaced by screens. However, he doesn’t deny the importance of digital tools in our daily routine. He argues in favor of a support of the parents in the children’s discovery of the virtual games so they could understand the relationship between the real and the virtual. Children with communication problems or anxiety could also find a more comfortable relation in the virtual games than in the traditional ones. Professor Delion reminds us that :

Un enfant ne s’éduque jamais tout seul et l’iPad à mon sens ne doit pas être laissé aux enfants avant 9 ans. N’oublions pas que cette tablette reste un portail vers Internet.

The solution would be found in a balance in the private educational environment. The educational games participate in the development and in the creativity of the children. However, time spent with the iPad has to be clearly limited and controlled by the parents. So the relation between the children and the tablet does not fall into an addiction. In addition, Pierre Delion underlines the fact that the interactive games do not improve young children intelligence.

Source: Techcrunch, Timbuktu application.

Daddy, can I take my iPad at school?

According to Apple, the iPad seems to be the revolution that the education was waiting since Plato’s Academy, revealed by this official video:

iPad is showing up in peoples’ lives all around the world. Now, when we set out to create the iPad, we set out to create not just a new product, but a new category. Tim Cook

It is obvious that this video shows a 100% positive record of the arrival of theirs tablets in the classrooms. It is shown that the iPad can be used from the maternity to the university. Everything is a matter of application(s). At each age its applications. But what evidence is there of this? Some studies have already addressed the issue.

One of the main studies was carried for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a textbook publisher. The aim was to compare the performance of two groups of children at the Amelia Earhart Middle School in Riverside, California. A control group used the traditional Holt McDougal Algebra 1 textbook, while an experimental group used iPads with an interactive version of the same coursework. According to The Economist, at the end of the year: 78% of pupils using the interactive text scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the California algebra test, compared with only 59% scoring likewise with the standard textbook.

Students’ interaction with the device was more personal. You could tell students were more engaged. Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them. Coleman Kells, principal of Amelia Earhart Middle School.

Moving textbooks to mobile devices will reinvent learning. Marita Scarfi, CEO of digital-focused marketing agency Organic.

However, the major downside has been enlightened: the cost. The Apple iPads are still a $500-plus investment per unit. Funding is still a problem, particularly for public schools, explains Christina Bonnington for Wired. She says that one of the solutions would be sites like which can provide funds for schools. Anyway, the cost shouldn’t stop us from thinking education in that way.

Source: book cover, Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World.

The first iPad summit this year supported that of point of view. As a young student present at the summit reported: participants gave all their attention to a single piece of technology and how it might be applied in the realm of education. Tony Wagner, Ph.D. Harvard professor, highlighted the themes of the conference:

We must change the framework of education to reflect what our students need in the world today. Tools like the iPad allow educators and students to be creative, flexible, and innovative in ways never before seen. The same-old-same-old approach in education has only been driving the failure of the American educational system. If we want different results, we need to do something different.

Three main conclusions emerged from this First iPad Summit:

  1. iPad is simply a tool and not the magical, miracle object that will innovate education by itself
  2. iPad in the classroom must be linked with professional development
  3. iPad in education must be more than a replacement program

Bye bye Candy shop, Hello Apple store!

What are the educative applications? There is a certain numbers of applications destined to teach, develop, train, create and so on. Most of these apps have a recreational side which can transform the learning process into a less painful and boring experience for the children. From the most rudimentary to the serious Khan Academy, the Apple store proposes numerous applications for all ages, free as well as charged. Most of these apps work on the logic of a serious game: software that combines a serious intention, like pedagogical, informational, communicational, marketing, ideological or drive with fun. The vocation of a serious game is to make the serious side attractive with an interaction, rules or possibly with play goal.¹

Source: Apple Store

Switch off your iPad, it’s time to go to bed now !

To conclude, the iPad isn’t a magical solution nor will it replace the contribution of a teacher. However, E-learning may allow developing certain abilities in children who are in an environment where the virtual is increasingly present. It’s central that children learn how to use the tools that they will find later in their studies or in their daily life/routine. Like David Pogue reminds us, the secret is in moderation. The iPad summits will certainly improve the knowledge, in a collaborative aim, of the utility and danger of this esthetic tool. The cost can clearly be a barrier to the spread of that product. We shouldn’t forget that education is profitable new market as well as a good way to attract future customers.

Even if there is still a lot to do and to develop around the perspective of e-teaching, I wish all the best for the collaboration between the teacher and the “Professor iPad”.

Education needs you !

read more:

1: Wikipedia,érieux

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