Surrounded by controversy, the University of Montana’s football team has decided to self-censor on social media.
Last week, The Missoulian reported that players on the Division 1 team voted to stop using Twitter, calling it a “gossip machine.” The decision came weeks after the team's head coach and athletic director were fired and the Federal Department of Justice opened an investigation into how reports of sexual assaults were handled by school and government officials in the city of Missoula. A handful of those assaults reportedly involved players from the Montana Grizzlies, a team that has had a scandalous past, as the Missoula Independent reported earlier this year.
According to the interim coach, the decision to quit Twitter came from the players themselves.
“Their thoughts were that Twitter’s nothing but gossip,” Mick Delaney told The Missoulian. “It makes me happy to think that they would step forward to do some positive things to eliminate misconceptions.”
But some players haven't followed the new guidelines, including quarterback Gerald Kemp, who was still tweeting as of Sunday. According to The Missoulian, Kemp also spoke out against the new ban in a tweet that was later removed: “So we were told we had to close our Twitter accounts... last 24 hrs tweeting not giving a (expletive).”
As of Monday, Kemp's Twitter page was still up, but some of the questionable tweets the newspaper reported on were apparently taken down. Kemp wasn't alone in his displeasure about the new ban, but team officials said every player would be expected to follow the new policy. How it would be enforced was unclear. Players would be able to keep Facebook.
A sports team, college, or otherwise, taking a stand against how Twitter and social media is quickly becoming a trend. As the Daily Dot reported earlier this month, Cardiff City Football Club coach Malky Mackay banned his players from using any social media in the days before the playoff.
"I want the players focused on their game, their training and the two matches coming up," Mackay told the BBC.
And in India, a team was barred from using Twitter and Facebook after one player got a little too heated on the social media site back in 2009.
Apparently, the old sports adage holds true: Leave it all out on the field.
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