Monday, 15 August 2011

The Great Twitter Debate

Logging on to Twitter this week, there's been one topic every blogger from the snooker community has had something to say about: Twitter itself.

For many, Twitter has become the most instantaneous way of keeping abreast of action from the baize.

With a strong network of snooker bloggers and fans all taking to the social networking site, the way in which people are following snooker has changed to the same extent as the game itself under Barry Hearn.

With the World Snooker live scoring system improving, but still unreliable, people seem to be turning to Twitter more and more to keep up to date with the latest scores.

When I say, right up to date, I literally mean ball-by-ball.

With numerous PTC and qualifying matches being played away from the television screens and a growing thirst for the latest news, Twitter has become a number one calling point with bloggers such as Matt from ProSnookerBlog always on hand to keep people in the picture.

His presence along with others at the recent PTC2 tournament made it one of the best covered competitions of its kind so far.

It's hardly a surprise in a world where new technology is evolving at such a vast rate that snooker should take the same path.

While snooker's new found Twitter culture  has been greeted with warmth by many, it's not the case for everyone with the tweeting during matches being given the big thumbs-down by World Snooker in Gloucester.

This has opened up a lengthy debate about how Twitter can best be employed to improve coverage of the game, without becoming an unruly free for all while players are trying to concentrate on playing the game.

The answer to this is of course, is by no means easy. But a flat out 'no' to tweeting helps no-one.

While I'm not the kind of snooker fan who feels the need to know about every ball being potted in every match, neither do I need convincing on how Twitter can be an effective tool in providing coverage for exciting non-televised matches.

A classic example is the deciding frame between Matthew Stevens and Fergal O'Brien in last year's World Championship qualifiers, where the Crucible fate of both these professionals swung on like a pendulum with only Twitter capable of painting the most accurate picture.

With a huge demand for live updates in an enthralling final frame, superb Twitter commentary was broadcasting a blow-by-blow account of the frame meaning despite the match not being seen on television, it still went down as one of many fans' games of the season.

This is evidence in itself of just how well new technology can assist snooker in providing greater exposure.

Traditionally, I've always said technology should be left in the media centre and, while spectating is the name of the game table side. That is definitely still the case for televised matches, but this rule is somewhat murkier when talking about non-televised play. Examples like the one above proves there's room for the rules to bend for the good of the game.

Taking myself away from specific examples, it's great to see the new snooker boom has led to an increased hunger for scores and results. So why should the game turn this enthusiasm away?

Somewhere down the line, there is a very valid argument for allowing tweeting of non-televised matches. Whether this is left in the hands of World Snooker, or independent blogger, isn't my decision.

But while there's demand, the game should be doing everything to accommodate it, and further enhance its relationship with fans.

The problem is striking the correct Twitter balance.  We've got to be realistic in admitting that the game survived long before social networking, and it will certainly survive long after it.

But to say no indefinitely to social networking would, in my opinion, be a grave mistake at a time when the sport is making fantastic strides in its modernisation.

It's up to the policy makers to address the issue, sooner rather than later.

Please share your views on 'The Great Twitter Debate'.....

1 comment:

  1. you obviously cant have people all over the shop tweeting but i do believe now that bloggers like you,matt,snookerisland who ever that goes to events has to be treated like part of the media and given designated tweeting spots in the crowd or in the arena to report on matches to the masses.

    newspapers just dont do it for snooker no more so bloggers has to have more respect and encouraged to report on events from within and in 2011 that includes tweeting.