Blogs and Commentary

posted 12.20.2011 at 5.10 p.m. by Corey McLaughlin

A Nod of Support for Wings’ Twitter Experiment

The Philadelphia Wings will swap players' last names for Twitter handles on the backs of jerseys when they play the Buffalo Bandits Feb. 12 in Philadelphia.
© Philadelphia Wings


In the 19th century, they called them Luddites, the people who were against changes produced by the Industrial Revolution because the advances put them out of work. To show their opposition, they destroyed machines. For example, ones used to weave cloth.

As rumors began of what became official Tuesday afternoon – that the National Lacrosse League's Philadelphia Wings will use players' Twitter handles on the backs of jerseys for one game, instead of their last names – modern day Luddites out there emerged.

They said the move that would mix modern technology with a lacrosse game was a poor decision by the team and would damage the NLL's reputation. They, ironically, made their opinions known on Twitter.

"One game too many. Gimmick like this sets the league back and makes us look like joke," Washington Stealth forward Jeff Zywicki tweeted from his account, @Zywicki67.

"Just heard an NLL team will be replacing front jersey logo with each players' Facebook profile pic. #justforonegame," the Edmonton Rush's Zack Greer tweeted sarcastically on his account, @ZackGreer88.

Why the hate?

Twitter, like technological advancements that came during the Industrial Revolution, is a giant development in our current Information Age. It's powerful. It's direct. It's instant. It's not going away anytime soon, and if it does, something like it will replace it. Remember AOL Instant Messenger? Twitter is just an advanced form of that. Think of Tweets of constantly updated away messages.

As it relates to lacrosse and the NLL, social media of any kind can be used to directly connect players and coaches with fans. We use it @LacrosseMag and @USLacrosse. Why not make it obvious that this relationship is out there to be had?

According to a press release from the Wings on Tuesday, each player will have his Twitter handle stitched onto the back of his jersey, in place of traditional last names, "as an effort to help increase engagement and awareness for use of the social media tool." That sounds good.

The Wings front office staff will require each player on the team to create and/or maintain a Twitter account and will be holding a formal Twitter training session prior to the start of the season. That sounds good, too.

And the team will use the players' Twitter handles on the backs of Wings jerseys when the team player the Buffalo Bandits Feb. 12 in Philadelphia. After the game, the jerseys will be auctioned with proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The Wings aren't the first team, or second, to try this. The Spanish soccer club Valencia used its team Twitter handle on the front of players' jerseys in place of a sponsor that they didn't have. Then a Mexican soccer team, Jaguares de Chiapas, used players' Twitter handles along with their jersey numbers.

If you never heard of those teams, you have now. Maybe some more people will become aware of the National Lacrosse League and the Philadelphia Wings after this.

The forward pass in football was once considered a gimmick. So was Tim Tebow. Try it out and see what happens.

As Wings player Dave Brock (@dbrock17) tweeted, "I think this is exactly why the @PhillyWings wanted to do it ..Got you talking."

And only for one game. Why not try it more?

You can follow me on Twitter (@Corey_McL).