Wasps boss happy to remain as a social Dia-Nosaur

Wasps boss happy to remain as a social Dia-Nosaur

James Haskell took to Twitter last weekend to deny various allegations including rumours he was dead

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and for those in the public eye, including sportspeople, this brings a whole new set of opportunities and problems.

Countless technology-related incidents have brought the wrong kind of headlines for members of every England team. From Kevin Pietersen’s South African texts to Wayne Rooney’s antics at a wedding in the team hotel or Mike Tindall’s dwarf tossing interlude, we are amused, shocked and sometimes even offended with growing regularity.

This weekend’s highest profile social media escapade involved Wasps’ James Haskell. The England flanker took to Twitter to correct allegations made elsewhere in the Twittersphere regarding his use of body-building supplements and rumours of his recent death - which, to borrow from Mark Twain, were seemingly greatly exaggerated.

 

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Haskell is a prolific, and often very amusing, user of Twitter, and has built his personal profile, promoted his book and various fitness-related initiatives to over 140,000 followers.

So while his boss, Dai Young, was able to see the ironic humour in this situation, he was also taken aback by the nature of the unfounded allegations.

“Given that Hask is on social media every day, I’m not quite sure how anyone could think he’s dead,” Young said. “For someone who has been out injured for six months, he has done pretty well to make sure no-one forgets him. “It’s not a very nice thing for his family to read though, as it’s quite nasty, but I’m sure Hask is pretty thick-skinned and he’s put everyone straight on it.”

For managers and coaches across the sporting world, social media has introduced a new dynamic into managing their playing staff.

Wasps’ boss is one of the most pragmatic of men, and therefore accepts clubs must adapt to the perils and positives brought by social media, since only one or two football clubs have successfully managed to have players contractually banned from using it.

“Our players are pretty good by and large,” he said. “You don’t want people talking about selection, or having a gripe or moan when things don’t go their way, as they do for all of us at some point.

“Once something is on there it can’t be taken back, so you have to train everyone about it. There’s no hiding place now, as wherever you go people have cameras and social media on their phones, so you have to be ultra-professional in everything you do, and think about what you say.”

Young also recognised that social media creates communication channels which previously did not exist, and that good and less-good aspects exist to this.

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“It opens up a lot of avenues for those brave keyboarders out there who talk rubbish,” he said, “and as a professional you have to deal with that and accept it’s part-and-parcel of it.

“I’m a bit of a dinosaur, but I’m told it also has lots of benefits in promoting yourself and the game. But there’s lots of pitfalls too, so it’s really important if you spend the amount of time some players do using social media that you’re very careful. 

“Everybody gets training, and every club has a social media policy which is part of the code of conduct agreement between club and the players.

“That basically defines things that are acceptable on social media and things that aren’t, and tells them to check if there’s any doubt so they don’t say something they might regret.”

Haskell has since told the BBC that this situation has made him question the lack of controls in place on most social media outlets.

“I’m hugely worried, people are just making stuff up,” he said, “and I just think platforms should put a bit of time in to eradicating that stuff.”

“A guy who I helped train messaged me asking me if I’d seen this website, then sent me a link that claimed I was under investigation for some huge scandal, where my whole career was going up in smoke. Then, as you scrolled down, it was trying to sell you some kind of supplement.”

“You see it all the time. No one checks anything; the world is disappearing down the toilet via social media every day.

Wasps’ former skipper also called on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to do more to deal with this problem.

“They could do it overnight, but they just don’t want to,” he said.

“The sad thing is, it’s like it’s opened Pandora’s box. Social media could be so good. It could provide information, give you enlightenment, spread positive news.

“But instead it’s seems a lot of the time it’s a load of idiots making up rubbish, or eating chilli peppers and wondering why they’re crying and can't breathe.”

Wasps Twitter followers top ten:

Danny Cipriani 193,000

James Haskell 140,000

Kurtley Beale 79,000

Christian Wade 37,000

Joe Launchbury 31,000

Kyle Eastmond 25,000

Joe Simpson 17,000

Elliot Daly 16,000

Jimmy Gopperth 14,000

Ashley Johnson 9,000

 

– Entry was posted on December 15th, 2016 by James Haskell

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