ON SPORTS: 'Time to go' tweet sets off alarm among area coaches
Oct. 5, 2013 at 5:05 a.m.
They weren't exactly three words that shook the world.
But it's fair to say they were three words that rocked the Texas Twitter universe.
Quarterback Travis Quintanilla had returned to the Refugio locker room at halftime of its District 16-2A, Division II opener against Riviera.
The Bobcats were leading 56-0, and coach Jason Herring obviously didn't have to make many adjustments.
After going over who would play in the second half, Herring told his players to relax for the remainder of the break.
Most of the players pulled out their phones and put on headphones to listen to music, while others checked their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
When assistant coach Drew Cox came into the locker room to tell the players to return to the field, Quintanilla tweeted Cox's words, "Time to go."
Quintanilla might as well have been Paul Revere proclaiming, "The British are coming."
Twitter blew up with people retweeting or favoriting Quintanilla's tweet or commenting positively and negatively.
Most of the negative comments suggested Quintanilla was being disrespectful by tweeting during halftime of a game.
Quintanilla had no idea of the stir he created until he came back to the locker room following Refugio's 70-0 win.
"After the game, I looked at my phone and oh my goodness," Quintanilla said. "I have never seen so much interest in Twitter since that night. That night was crazy. My notifications on my locked screen were just insane. I got my phone and it was just ringing, ringing, ringing."
Quintanilla picked up 150 followers on his Twitter account in the span of 30 minutes, and after the hubbub seemed to die down, quite a few more people followed him the next day.
Herring, who doesn't tweet, didn't find out what was happening until his assistants informed him after the game. At first, he didn't completely understand the commotion, but grew concerned enough to discuss the situation with Refugio superintendent Jack Gaskins the next day.
They decided not to punish Quintanilla, who was not the only member of the team tweeting, but Herring instructed his players not to tweet or Facebook at anytime during a game.
"I looked at the situation and I realized that it offended a lot of people and I'm not making an excuse for it," Herring said. "In my mind, there was no malicious intent. It said, 'Time to go.' I explained to him (Quintanilla) that it looks terrible because it was done at halftime of a game and they can twist it into did he do it on the sidelines. Though there was no malicious intent and he didn't really harm anybody, in the future we're not doing this again."
Quintanilla still seems a bit mystified by the reaction to his tweet, but will follow Herring's edict.
"My eyes opened up. Just to tweet one little thing," Quintanilla said. "I learned my lesson. It wasn't a bad thing, but I guess it was bad to other people."
Quintanilla is not the first athlete to tweet during the course of a game, but there's no doubt being the quarterback of a high-profile team like Refugio makes him a lightning rod for attention.
Pro and college athletes have felt the wrath of their coaches, teammates, and the public as the result of their tweets.
One athlete in the area was suspended for a game after criticizing his coaches in a tweet.
Herring and other area coaches speak to their players about the consequences of social media, usually at the beginning of the season.
"I talk to them about being careful," Herring said. "Our whole world lumps social media into everything. They consider texting, Facebooking, messaging, all of that stuff, they consider the same thing.
"What they don't realize is when you text you're sending it to uno mas, unless it is forwarded. When you tweet and Facebook - though it feels like you're sending it to uno mas - you're sending it worldwide. What I tell them is don't ever put in writing anything you wouldn't want your mom or dad or your coach or somebody to see."
When area coaches were told of what happened with Quintanilla's tweet, they reacted like an alarm went off.
"At the beginning of the year this is something that comes up and this is a good reminder and we should probably talk to them again," said Cuero coach Travis Reeve. "We tell them that anything they post is open to the public and is a reflection on all of us."
"We talk to them at the beginning of the year and tell them if we see them doing anything wrong on Facebook, they are going to be punished," said El Campo coach Bob Gillis. "We're going to have to talk to them again."
With the exception of those new to the profession, most coaches attended school and participated in athletics before Facebook and Twitter.
They may remember Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer making phone calls to recruits such as running back Billy Sims at halftime of a game.
But the immediacy of social media wasn't present.
Texting, messaging, Facebook and Twitter are ingrained in society.
With one click, a player's words are in the public domain.
Coaches can only hope it doesn't come back to bite them.
"It's definitely something new and everybody has to deal with it," Reeve said. "The scary thing is you really have no control over it."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.