Once upon a time, Twitter was a simple place. It was a place to share personal updates or inspirational quotes in a few words with friends and family. Over time, it grew into the global social networking home of news, celebrity gossip and live sports updates.
Twitter may also be a source of power.
Former USC receiver Kyle Prater has 3,800-plus Twitter followers. On July 9, Prater, seeking a waiver to play for the Northwestern Wildcats without missing a season, went on strike from Twitter.
The NCAA approved his waiver Tuesday, and Prater returned to Twitter after 22 days absent.
Did his strike have any effect on the NCAA’s decision? Probably not at all. But the premise of Twitter being a real-world source of leverage is an interesting one for sports fans.
As a high school senior at Proviso West in Hillside, Ill., Prater was ranked No. 1 wide receiver and No. 3 overall player in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com. The five-star recruit could have chosen virtually any school and ultimately committed to USC.
Lower-body injuries slowed Prater at his first USC training camp and first-year coach Lane Kiffin opted to redshirt the receiver. Prater played a limited role for the Trojans in 2011, making just one catch for six yards.
After the season, Prater left USC to take his talents back home to the Chicagoland area at Northwestern. His eligibility for the 2012 season was not automatic, and Prater had to fill out a residence waiver to play immediately after his transfer.
As of early July, Prater and the Wildcats had still not heard back from the NCAA. Prater, who has more than 8,300 tweets, decided it was time to make a sacrifice: He gave up Twitter.
At 8:26 p.m. ET on July 9, Prater tweeted:
Prater stuck to his word.
When the NCAA approved his waiver to immediately play in 2012, a rejuvenated Prater returned.
Here’s Prater's tweet at 4:43 p.m. ET Tuesday:
He followed at 4:53 p.m. ET:
Prater can now suit up at Northwestern training camp with the comfort of knowing he will be eligible in the fall. Prater’s first game in purple will be at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on Sept. 1.
More importantly to Twitter and Northwestern football fanatics, Prater's tweeting strike is over. Prater has fewer than 4,000 followers and little power. His social media choices are not particularly influential. But other people's Twitter moves could be.
Think about some of the top tweeting people in the sports world such as sportswriters, players, coaches, owners, etc. Imagine if Mark Cuban stopped tweeting until a trade went through. Could guys like them use Twitter as a source of power?