So, Ron Artest is soon to be a Los Angeles Laker. Of course, he tweeted about it. Lots of tweets, in fact. But one tweet before the deal was announced raised some eyebrows. On the night of July 1, Artest dropped this: "THANKS A LOT HOUSTON :) I HAD A LOT OF FUN."
Remember, the deal wasn't announced till Thursday. So was Artest hinting at something early here? Did he have information he was already on his way to another squad, but things weren't quite finalized? Nope. Not according to his agent, David Bauman. "That is not Ron's account," Bauman told the Houston Chronicle. "That's what happens with the so-called new media."
Except it is actually Artest's account. We know this because he has the verified account icon on it. We know this because he's posted several photos of himself on there, ones only he/someone very close to him would be able to snap. We know this because in this video, Artest talks about tweeting about signing a multi-hundred thousand dollar deal, and that tweet is on the account in question. We know this because on that same video, Artest's Twitter name @96TruwarierQB, pops up near the beginning in text. And where would one find a link to that video? On the Twitter account in question.
Look, I was all for Twitter taking the necessary step and creating verified accounts after St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued them because of a fake Twitter feed that occasionally had some damaging stuff on it. But this isn't the case here. This is the case of an agent trying to do damage control on a client who decided to have a little fun on his Twitter account, as Artest tweeted he'd been signed everywhere from Denver (His reason? They'll be filming the next "Transformers" movie there) to the Brooklyn Dodgers, after the "THANKS A LOT HOUSTON" tweet. This is the case of an agent throwing new media under the bus unnecessarily, when it's clear there is now a system in place to stop the proliferation of fake accounts.
Artest is unpredictable, and Bauman tried to quell some of his tweeting by saying the Twitter account wasn't his client's. Leave it to Twitter to furnish evidence that proves him dead wrong.
Tweeting to the next level
Twitter was just gaining mainstream steam around the Super Bowl last season, so the NFL has yet to deal with any real Twitter issues. Until now. Chad Ochocinco told Houston radio station KGOW about his Twitter exploits once the season hits: "I'm going to really make it fun. I'm using Twitter during games, during halftime, after the games. I'm going to be taking it to the next level."
For now, the league has no official stance, other than it will "look into that one."
A post-touchdown tweet is a logical celebration for Ochocinco, a man with a history of creative end zone celebrations. But it's safe to assume the NFL will likely ban any sort of in-game Twitter use -- especially if Ochocinco is the one speaking out about it. Unlike smaller leagues such as Women's Professional Soccer and the LPGA, both of which had league officials encouraging in-game and in-round athlete tweets to try to spark more popularity and chatter for the sport, the NFL simply doesn't need it.
It's just another distraction.
If you're looking for a resource to keep track of athlete social media, head over to newly launched Jockipedia. The site is a wiki, allowing users to add links to an athlete's social media home bases. Since it's in its infancy, the site is still rather sparse on knowledge. Though Dwight Howard's page is robust with links to his personal site, blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, MySpace page and video stream, the aforementioned Artest has only a link to his personal site set up as of press time.
If users continue to plug in information, the site will become useful for anyone seeking out their favorite athlete's social media spots rather quickly and efficiently. If not, it may fall by the wayside.