On Twitter’s 5th birthday; the 5 sports personalities who would’ve made it even better

March 22, 2011 |

Yesterday afternoon, Ryan Chell reminded me that it was the 5th anniversary of Twitter’s existence. In the grand scheme of time flying by, it’s hard to believe an entire five years have passed since “tweets” became a staple of social media.

Granted, the infancy of Twitter was not nearly as resounding as we find it today. What started off as an informal forum for providing our random, incidental thoughts in concise form (140 typed characters or less) has now become a major thoroughfare for disseminating BREAKING NEWS and information.

Okay, it’s still dominated by boastful or self-depricating comments aimed at selling one’s perceived personal importance, in hopes of landing more daily followers. But, it’s information exchange, nonetheless.

So, to mark Twitter’s birthday, I have compiled a short list of sports personalities, both deceased and inactive, who could’ve made Twitter even more enjoyable for the common subscriber.

Forget the likes of Chad Ochcinco, Charlie Sheen, Mark Cuban and Terrell Owens. While their contributions are certainly noteworthy, I can think of five individuals who could’ve made Twitter even hotter for the typical sports fan.

Here’s my list …..

5) Jim Valvano – Perhaps, some will say Jimmy V would’ve equated to being a twin for another charismatic, former coach, Dick Vitale. Although, Vitale (ironically known as Dickie V) never realized Valvano’s level of success at the collegiate level; he doesn’t have the pelt on the wall, so to speak.

I think Jim Valvano would’ve merited a different reception, especially given his relentless charm and underdog shtick, which he embraced after leading the North Carolina Wolfpack to an improbably NCAA Championship, in 1983. I have a feeling Valvano would’ve equally embraced Twitter with his motivational technique and brimming popularity each and every March.

Indeed, this would’ve been the biggest time of year for his followers. And, he would’ve loved every moment of it, right?

4) Dale Earnhardt – Okay, let the calls of Rex’s “homer pick” begin with this one. But, if you’re not familiar with the marketing genius of Dale Earnhardt, you’ll likely never really know how much he emphasized on selling and branding the INTIMIDATOR image, both positively and negatively.

Earnhardt was famously known for taunting and rattling hotshot newcomer, Jeff Gordon, in the mid-1990’s. Yet, after realizing the booing and fan hatred was beginning to break Gordon’s spirit, Earnhardt took him under wing and they became great friends. Earnhardt is famously known for telling Gordon “it doesn’t matter if they cheer or boo your ass, as long as they react. The day they don’t make any noise when your name is announced, you’re in trouble.”

I’m not convinced Dale Earnhardt would’ve personally tweeted. But, I can guarantee he would’ve hired somebody to do it. He was a 9th grade dropout, but he expertly understood the financial value of exposure and he’s credited with being the first NASCAR driver to sell t-shirts at racetrack vendor trailers. Today, it’s a BILLION DOLLAR industry.

In just another difference between he and his son, Dale Earnhardt maximized every opportunity to appeal to those who loved him, as well as those who loved to HATE him. He marketed souvenirs for both extremes. He was also the first NASCAR competitor to secure his name with a .com at the end. His presence on Twitter would’ve been assured, and that’s a guarantee.

3) Yogi Berra – Yes, I’m keenly aware that he is still alive. But, he’s also 85 years old and enjoying the quieter, simpler side to life. Heck, lets face it, Yogi probably has some interesting personal takes on Twitter and social media, but he’s not bound to start describing such thoughts with a keyboard.

While he is famously known for some of the funnier quotes, ever, I think it’s also important to remember such musings might not have the same effect in written form. That said, I believe he would’ve loved internet thoroughfares for expressing himself in his youth. He’s a entertaining communicator, period.

I think Yogi Berra could’ve been a guy to harmlessly poke at others, via Twitter. I wouldn’t imagine him as disrespectful or even insulting. But, daily rants about anything and everything are something I could envision, especially with his quick, natural wit. And, in his own unique way, Yogi’s body of language would’ve been distinctive.