There are two stories here and I will tell you that I am not looking for college football trash talking here and I am going to be up front that those comments will be deleted unless they are in a friendly spirit of competition. Because honestly, there are some things more important than football. Yeah, you just heard me, October 2, 2009 At:59 PM Pacific Time.
On Monday, Stafon Johnson, a senior running back for my Trojans suffered a critical injury while bench pressing when the bar slipped from his hands and 275 pounds landed on his neck. He was rushed to the hospital and we held our breath. The question wasn't "can he play?" it was "can he live." Part of our family was in trouble.
When you see Stafon on TV (scoring the winning touchdown in our victory over Ohio State, for example), you see the athlete, and only a slight glimpse of the guy, getting the team motivated, engaging the fans and alumni. TV gives you visibility to the first, and social media gives you visibility to the second. Stafon will not be playing again this year. But there are other victories: surviving is one. And not to sound all mooshy, the human spirit is another one. I am so proud that Stafon is part of our family. Wait, let me say that again. I am so proud that Stafon is part of *OUR* family. What an amazing guy.
We could have gotten all of our information from the sports media. But really, do you trust people that report on pre-season polls and rankings as if they are actually worth something? Nope. While some in the college football environment see Twitter as a "distraction", coach saw it as an opportunity. Stafon was in intensive care when coach hands him a cell phone and gets him set up to Twitter. Trojan nation starts to decompress as Stafon, unable to speak, let's us know how he is feeling.
I know that I have been critical of Twitter in the past. Not so much the tool but the inability of users to filter. What you had for lunch is of no interest to me. But getting a glimpse into who you are as a person? That's what I want to see. That is what Stafon's Twitter followers (whatever they are called. Tweetees? Whatever) got. What a freaking treat that is.
When I go out and speak to audiences about blogging, I talk about my filters: make it relevant or interesting or both. And what I have observed from my blogging experience is that making it personal is social networking gold. A post on writing a resume will get some eyeballs. Writing about who you are gets subscribers.
Coach Carroll totally got this right. For a school, team and alumni that are connected by a fighting spirit (I did a good job of picking the right school for me...right?), Stafon's was exactly what we needed. We needed it because we are concerned about a great young man. And we needed it as fans. A couple days out of this horrible accident and this is what we get from Stafon:
@Stafon13 layin here watch espn and wishing i was on that plane to Berkeley but imma leave that mission 4 my boi's God has a plan lets go RB UUUUUUUUU
I cannot believe I just joined Twitter.