The Super Bowl is six days away and recent history indicates the NFL Pro Bowl has painfully come, and thankfully gone. This is the same lack luster game between the AFC and NFC’s best, doubling as a glorified flag football game with pads. Two years ago the NFL gave the Pro Bowl a shake down, moved the game a week before the Super Bowl, and from Honolulu to Miami for the first time since 1980. Last night the game reverted back to its rightful spot in Hawaii, with twitter stations on each sideline.
Wait – what!? Yes, the league that has historically been strict on their social media policy. The NFL policy states players aren’t allowed to use their twitter account 90 minutes before a game, and only after their post-game media obligations have concluded. That being said, the league provided each sideline with twitter stations, so that players could “live tweet” during the game.
This flip-flopping on the policy wasn’t looked to highly upon by players; including Steelers’ linebacker and NFL’s notorious dirty hitter James Harrison. On his own twitter account Harrison wrote, “Why u think the NFL “wants us” to tweet during the Pro Bowl but wont “let us” til 90 min AFTER a real game? I won’t tweet during today’s game.” Harrison’s stance wasn’t reciprocated, as many players enjoyed the relaxed policy including the Pro Bowl MVP, and Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall. He went on to write, “Shout out to @MiamiDolphins & @Finsiders. Happy to be out here, but I can’t wait until next season!! Feb 13 & I’m back at it! #probowl,” said Marshall.
While I’ve been known to “live tweet” games, mostly for my beloved Syracuse Orange basketball team, I agree with Harrison. The NFL is the greatest professional sports league in the United States, but it’s also a business. Twitter is the social network, and the NFL tried to cash in. In a game that traditionally hasn’t held up to its end of the bargain, the tweeting stations were ways to create some excitement and bring people back, but it didn’t work. Last year’s Pro Bowl took in 12.04 million viewers, while last night’s game saw 10.52 million viewers according to The Futon Critic. Twitter undeniably brings fans closer to celebrities, athletes, and it’s a great tool, but my take away? Leave the “live tweeting” to fans, journalists, and the social savvy.
This is a guest post by Marcus LaRobardiere. Follow him on Twitter at@marcusdl