Izzo: Social media can be negative, distracting for players

As much as modern society moves towards a new world order of social media, Tom Izzo still isn’t buying it.

Izzo doesn’t like Twitter — a sentiment he attempts to pass along to his players. Izzo’s not impressed by the many photo filters of Instagram. Don’t look for the 18-year head coach on Pinterest, either.

But as long as Izzo’s involved with the No. 18 Spartans (14-3 overall, 3-1 Big Ten), he recognizes the way the demographic of his players read and interprets social media.

Making mention of it several times during the course of his Monday press conference, Izzo said current players are encumbered by the weight of the media platform unlike few generations ever have been.

“It’s the parity (of the conference) that we’re all saddled with and maybe what I’ve been saying about the social media and everything, I think society-wise, it’s who can keep guys focused on one thing the longest,” Izzo said. “And it is a challenge for us. I think that’s a bigger challenge than anything we have to do as coaches right now.”

The nature of sites such as Twitter allow accessibility to collegiate athletes that hasn’t been available in the past. However, coupling that with the veil of anonymity and knee-jerk reactions of many fans and media professionals often spells a harsh reality for the athletes receiving the tweets.

“I do not believe it’s ever good when people can hide behind keyboards,” he said. “You guys (the media) really can’t do that. When people can do that, it’s absolutely gutless.”

Few members of the Spartan basketball team understand that quite like Branden Dawson.

A native of Gary, Ind., the sophomore guard/forward Dawson has received messages with varying degrees of abuse from fans since he committed to MSU prior to the 2011-12 season.Dawson said he’s gotten tweet topics ranging from lamenting his choice of school, most notably from his home-state Purdue fans, to people negatively commenting about his March 2012 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Yet Dawson said he avoids the negative banter, citing a desire not to let it become a distraction for himself or others.

“It really doesn’t have an impact on me because I’m the type of guy, if someone says something about me, I really just look past it,” Dawson said. “With all that Twitter and Facebook, coach wants us to stay off that stuff because he says it’s a distraction.”

The same couldn’t be said of senior center Derrick Nix, at least on Sunday night.

Following the team’s victory against Nebraska at Breslin Center, Nix took to his Twitter account and retweeted multiple messages from people taking shots of him, including remarks about his weight and his skill on the floor.

One of the few to openly embrace the many social media platforms, Nix said it’s “hilarious” that people could say what they do about a college athlete.

“I just feel like some people are ignorant, you know,” Nix said. “I feel like I see some of the same people tweeting good stuff when I play good and bad stuff when I play bad. That’s not a real fan of me.”

Still, Nix continues to send out his signature “R.I.P. ta da competition” message after each of his team’s victories and remains a popular figure on social media.

Although remaining on various media platforms, Nix said he understands Izzo’s desire to avoid social media based on what people say and the way it can be interpreted.

“It used to bother me, but it comes with the nature of the beast,” he said. “If you’re a basketball player and play bad, people are (going to) say you suck. If you play good, people (are going to) say you can play so either way it goes, you’re (going to) have somebody saying something.”

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