Twitter age has mixed appeal in sports world

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Twitter age has mixed appeal in sports world

LOS ANGELES - Michelle Wie’s glee at her first LPGA triumph and Lance Armstrong’s ride-along calls show how Twitter brings fans closer to their sports heroes, but athlete tweeting is proving to have its pitfalls.

“Wowww-w-w ...... never thought this would feel THIS great!!!!” 20-year-old Wie tweeted shortly after claiming her first professional victory this month - letting fans who have watched her sometimes difficult path from schoolgirl prodigy to composed pro share in the moment.

Seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong is a master of the popular microblogging site, and has used it to muster hundreds of fans for ad-hoc rides in cities from Dublin to Los Angeles. Armstrong famously mobilized the more than 128,000 Twitter members who signed up to follow his feed when his time-trial cycle was stolen during the Tour of California in February.

The distinctive bike was eventually turned into police, and while there was no obvious link between the bicycle’s return and Internet forces rallying to Armstrong’s aid, online campaigns helped make life tough for the thief or thieves, said Sergeant Norm Leong of the Sacramento, California police force.

“All the technology involved really kept the story alive and moving,” Leong said.

But not all sportsmen appear to have the savvy to use Twitter to their advantage. Nate Robinson of the NBA’s Knicks didn’t do his reputation any favors when he was pulled over in a traffic stop, and joked and complained about it via Twitter while waiting in his car.

Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley, the second overall selection in the 2008 NBA draft, sparked more serious concern with some of his Twitter postings, including a photo of himself showing off a tattoo in which a plastic bag was visible and rumored to hold marijuana.

“I didn’t know what was in the picture,” said Beasley, who ended up doing a spell in a rehabilitation facility after the incident. “Had I have known, the picture wouldn’t have gone up.”

Another big misfire came from Antonio Cromartie, a cornerback with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. Cromartie whined about the “nasty food” at Chargers training camp on Twitter - and earned a $2,500 fine from the team.

Much of the explosion of tweets from NFL training camps prior to this season were mundane, but Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco sparked uproar when he promised to tweet during games.

The NFL quashed that idea, formulating a policy that prohibits players, coaches and other personnel from using Twitter or other social media platforms from 90 minutes before kickoff until the conclusion of postgame media interviews. AFP
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