One of the most unfiltered methods for following the Shockers throughout their Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament experience is free and requires only a computer and the ability to understand communication delivered 140 characters at a time.
Twitter – the social media service that allows users to share their thoughts, second by second, as long as those thoughts can be composed using 140 letters or fewer – is popular among Wichita State University’s players, coaches and official information outlets.
Fans who can’t make it to Los Angeles can sign up for a free account then follow along with the trip, as seen through the eyes of the people taking it.
They can watch the players celebrate their victories.
“Sorry about all y’all brackets lol haaaaaa #shockernation wadddddddup,” tweeted Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) the day after the Shockers upset top-seeded Gonzaga.
They can earn insight into what life is like for the team during tournament time.
“Trying to get caught back up on school #thestruggle #marchmadness,” wrote sophomore guard Evan Wessel (@EvanWessel) after returning from Salt Lake City.
They even can get play-by-play of the on-court action from WSU Coach Gregg Marshall’s 16-year-old son, Kellen (@KelMoney24), an avid Twitter user who travels with his family through the tournament.
“Wow refs put them right back in the game with bad charge call,” Kellen Marshall tweeted during the Gonzaga game.
WSU’s athletic department sees Twitter as a tool that student-athletes can use to promote themselves and their team, said Korey Torgerson, an associate athletic director who is in charge of compliance at WSU.
The school is not as strict as some, which have clamped down on social media usage among players after incidents across the country in which athletes posted offensive tweets, insulted their coaches or offered commentary that’s a little too honest for their own good.
But WSU does train players on what’s acceptable and what’s not on social media. The school brought in a social media expert for a seminar earlier this year, Torgerson said, and WSU has a social media policy that includes a list of do’s and don’ts, which the players must sign.
“Do support your teammates, coaches and fans for their efforts.”
“Do use social media to positively communicate with friends, family and teammates and others in your social circle. “
“Don’t post information related to the health, injury, or playing status of yourself or any teammate.”
“Don’t post comments, information , photos, videos, comments, or other representations showing the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc.”
The athletic department monitors student athletes’ social media pages to make sure that they’re staying within the guideline, Torgerson said. If they start to stray, they hear from their coaches.
“For the most part, from what I’ve seen, they act responsibly,” Torgerson said.