Brad Keselowski tweeted during the Daytona 500 and became something of a folk hero. His photos quickly turned viral and he gained 160,000 followers on twitter overnight. According to Keselowski, "I’m glad that people liked it and enjoyed it. It was really cool to pick up my phone and see, I think as of last night, I gained 160,000 followers. You know that was crazy and that’s great. I think at the end of the day, I’m just trying to show people what I would want to see if I was in their shoes."
All is good?
All is not good. The issues are of reality and image.
Reality: Smartphones are agile computers equipped with global positioning and motion detection with wireless capabilities. Why could someone not figure out ways to link these phones with even more powerful computers to get valuable data and to run simulations during races? The ways to take advantage are numerous.
Image: Social networking during competition is not done in professional sports. I can't think of one. If NASCAR is to be considered as a serious sport with athletes involved, it cannot allow drivers to tweet or perform other types of social networking during races. Not even during stoppage.
Consider these three hypothetical cases:
Case 1: In the waning moments of the Superbowl, Eli Manning tweets a photo of Tom Brady getting sacked and a quick message from the sidelines . Just a blurry photo and a short innocuous message that says "we got it!" Nothing fancy.
Case 2: During the World Series, Michael Young pulls out his phone and takes a quick video of the bench and shares it with his cyber community.
Case 3: Tiger Woods at the masters decides to take it all in with a quick click and sends out a short message that says "amen corner".
How viral would all this have been on the net? For sure Eli would have gained more than 160,000 followers off that tweet. Tiger would likely out gain all.
But professional athletes do not tweet during competition, not even the lesser known ones. Doing so sends the wrong kind of lackadaisical amateur image. In the end, such tweeting benefits the athlete but hurts the sport.
What should NASCAR do? It should not allow smartphones, or any personal wireless devices for that matter, inside race cars. Otherwise, it opens up many possibilities to demean motorsport. Meanwhile, Keselowski should define himself as a promising up and coming racer rather than someone who has latched onto twitter-mania. And if ever he needs to call his mom, just ask his crew chief to do so.