Jay Bilas is a Twitter sensation right now. Tweet the name Jay Bilas and you’re bound to see adoration, links, arguments and more relating to his so-called “takedown” of the NCAA last week.
How ironic that "Official Store of NCAA" sells Johnny Football shirts: http://t.co/A9fats88NI Or, a coincidence it's No. 2 with "Football"?
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 6, 2013
I had an interesting Twitter conversation last week about Bilas’ Twitter exploits.
But which person tweeted that at Bilas such that he could tweet it to his followers without credit?
— Andy Hutchins (@AndyHutchins) August 6, 2013
@CadChica Just feels like something he did not come up with independently.
— Andy Hutchins (@AndyHutchins) August 6, 2013
I understood what Andy was saying but it happens all of the time now. I should have known better.
I began thinking about this conversation, and my position on it, when I read Sports Illustrated’s media column by Richard Deitsch. Lost in this story is exactly what my Twitter-friend, Andy Hutchins, quickly pointed out on August 6th. How did Bilas explain to SI how he found out about what he is now being lauded for? Here’s how, in two parts:
While sitting at his kitchen table at his home in Charlotte last Tuesday, 24 hours before a long-awaited trip to France with his wife and teenage daughter, the ESPN college basketball analyst was tipped off by a follower on Twitter about a dubious practice on the Web site ShopNCAASports.com: When consumers typed in the names of prominent college football and basketball players into the search box, the individual jerseys of those players appeared for sale. So Bilas typed in the names of some college athletes into the search box and sent out his findings to his nearly 560,000 followers.
SI.com: How did you first become aware of the NCAA site?
Bilas: On Twitter. Around noon or so on Aug. 6, I had heard and tweeted about the irony of the NCAA and Texas A&M selling a Johnny Manziel jersey with “Football” on it where a last name would be.
“On Twitter” and “I heard”.
Something about reading this from SI challenged me to re-think Andy’s point of view. Why? Because I started doing a Twitter search of Jay Bilas. All the accolades have gone to Bilas. Yes, it’s the nature of Twitter now to not give credit when someone tips you off to something. Bilas is in the media/journalism business. SI is in the media/journalism business. Why not do a little research to the person who gave you the tip?
I get it. I understand why.
Don’t get me wrong. Bilas used his clout to bring attention to the issue. Good for him. But the amount of adoration, calling of Bilas a “hero” or “a genius” on Twitter is nauseating.
This post isn’t about the pay-for-play debate, which is really just two sides YELLING their point of view without really listening. It’s about the power regular, non-media folks have on Twitter. That was me before I ventured into journalism full-time. Fans have the power in their hands to share news or, in this case, potential stories on Twitter themselves.
Did Bilas take the time to publicly acknowledge, or even retweet, the person who tipped him to the NCAA Shop? If he has, I haven’t seen it. If you have, then let me know. But I don’t think he did. He simply took what someone tweeted to him and made it his own. Without acknowledgement. As someone who works in media like Bilas does, that’s wrong. That’s taking advantage of the landscape that is Twitter. Bilas gets the credit, radio/tv interviews at the expense of the person who tweeted it to him:
While researching for this post, I came across a similar situation. These two tweeted to or made sure Bilas’ Twitter handle were included,
— PS4RS (@PS4RS) August 7, 2013
— Adam Scott (@AdamVCE) August 8, 2013
And Bilas tweeted this the next morning:
NCAA Shop site selling Joe Paterno 400-Win gear: http://t.co/fG5cmer80a The "culture of football" ain't so bad when you profit off it, huh?
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 8, 2013
Neither received credit on Bilas’ timeline.
A few noteworthy tweets while I was searching for the original tweet:
- Bilas didn’t find it on his own, but that’s what the public believes.
— Billy Embody (@BillyEmbody) August 7, 2013
Simon gives Emmert credit for "identifying" the sales issue, which isn't exactly accurate… @JayBilas found it and everyone slammed NCAA.
— Allie Grasgreen (@alliegrasgreen) August 8, 2013
One person CAN make a difference. Well played, @JayBilas, well played. Thank you for leading by example and holding those clowns accountable
— Andrew Norden (@andrewjnorden) August 7, 2013
- Power of Twitter:
Went to a restaurant and the servers were talking about @JayBilas twitter account. Thank you, Jay!!!
— Joshua Shuck (@Shuck_Joshua) August 7, 2013
- If Bilas is a journalist, shouldn’t he publicly acknowledge the person who tweeted it to him in the first place?
Fight @JayBilas is waging for college athletes has few equals in sports journalism history. In league w/ Cosell's backing of Ali.
— Hampton Dellinger (@HampDellinger) August 7, 2013
- This guy is thinking like Andy. I don’t think he got a reply.
@JayBilas let's get real here… Did you actually figure the NCAA website thing out or did you steal the idea? Just curious…
— Nate Natwick (@dukefan4ever) August 9, 2013
FINAL THOUGHTS: Why did I choose to write about this?
I first saw the tweet “to” Jay Bilas on the 6th after I read Andy’s tweet. I knew I should have favorited it but I didn’t. I spent the better part of Monday reading tweets about Bilas as well as his mentions trying to find the original tip. So much praise heaped on one man who many believe has the power to bring down the NCAA.
Jay Bilas didn’t do this “single-handedly” as many have claimed. He didn’t “win” Twitter that day. Bilas couldn’t have done what he did without a fan telling him about it. That’s the key – that’s “trill”. The power of Twitter as a communication + news-reporting tool is the hands of fans, just as much as it is in the media’s.
I hope Jay Bilas doesn't put his Duke degree up on his wall. Because he did it all on his own. No help. From anyone.
— Karl Kirkwood (@truthfromduluth) August 6, 2013
If there’s anything I’ve learned about Twitter (and social media), it will take more than the power of one to do that, despite what the tweet above says.