Top athletics coach ponders social media ban
By Michael Gleeson
Sports Writer for The Age
13th August 2012
Looking to the future ... Eric Hollingsworth.
Photo: Getty Images
Athletes should be banned from social media, and the amount of regular media they do before and during major meets should be reduced as part of a more ruthless approach to improve performance, Athletics Australia head coach Eric Holingsworth says.
Hollingsworth said social media should be shut down for the two weeks of competition as a means of eliminating distraction for athletes. He stressed that he did not believe social and regular media had cost Australia medals, but said changing the future strategy towards media was part of a broad plan to lift performance.
"What makes a difference to getting from ninth to seventh or seventh to fourth or to winning and whether it is Twitter, social media ... whether it is you guys taking people's time up," he said.
He said that an athlete such as Sally Pearson, who attracted more media than any other athlete yet won her gold medal, was unique person.
"Do you think the Chinese athletes give the sort of access you guys get? Not a chance in hell. If we are really ruthless we start to shut that down in terms of what we do, that is just one thing," he said.
"Another thing, should we practice no Twitter, no Facebook in our camps for two weeks so athletes can get used to it? Because they are addicted and can't put it down .... those are the things that need to be educated and practiced across the board. This is really the first Twitter Games."
Asked how much significance he put in the impact of the distraction of media and social media in performance, Hollingsworth said it was of itself not overly significant, but was part of a range of factors that spoke to culture.
"It's a very complicated mix and we are putting together analysis of 10, 20, 30 different things and then putting weighting on them going forward and creating strategies for going forward," he said.
"Please don't be making a quote saying 'Twitter has cost us performance'. It is not that. It is a multitude of things right across the board, lots of different things, 20 different things you can think of."