On social media: 'Fans, for us, are almost part of the team'

Apr 18, 2019 by Pablo Laso - Madrid, Spain Print
On social media: 'Fans, for us, are almost part of the team'

Pablo Laso, the two-time Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion head coach of Real Madrid, is an avid social media user. With his Twitter account (@pablolaso), Laso stays in direct contact with the world and, especially, basketball fans. In this day and age, when information travels at the speed of light, Laso puts it to good use to establish a relationship with the basketball fans.

I always use the same example: let's say, 20 years go, when they told you that a team was going to sign an American players, it was almost impossible to find information about him. If you think about it, it's almost funny, because you were told he was 2.05 meters and when you met him at the airport he was 1.96! Now that is impossible. You have all the connections, the information on the net, and it helps basketball all over the world. Right now, information is there and it is very important for me as a coach and everyone involved in basketball.

I think it's important to have some sort of relationship with the fans. In the end, we play a sport and there are people watching. Those people can say anything; they want their team to win. They like to see how the players live, etc. That two-way direction is something that we have to accept. Probably it was not that way 25 years ago, but it has changed and we have to roll with it. It's good for the fans, and you have to see the good for the coaches and players, also.

I think it's normal that fans want a view of the team's dynamics through social media. You have to learn how to separate and live with it. I hate people who say 'I don't read media and I don't care what people say', because that's not reality today. No one is right about what they say all the time, not even me! You can say anything and that's good; you have to see it from that point of view. That relationship with the fans is good because you create something with them that is good. They care about the team, of course, also about winning, but also new players, the team playing good, etc. Social media takes fans closer to that and that's a good thing.

Of course, people also say negative things on social media behind a nickname and no filters. But that is a question not only for the Real Madrid coach, but for everyone. Think about yourself; if somebody trash talked you on the net, what would you say? It depends. I don't think ignoring it is the right word I would use, but if someone tells you something that you think is not right... why should you care? But this is not because I am the Real Madrid coach; it can happen to anyone in their jobs or lives. Sports are something that fans probably live with more intensity than other things in life. You cannot ignore it, but it's stupid that something like that would change the way you see things.

The first thing I do every morning is check on the games from the previous night, be it EuroLeague, EuroCup or NBA. Every game, you can check it in the morning: I wake up at 7, take my kids to school and an hour later I am drinking a coffee with all this information. I enjoy it very much. For me it's fun, and it's something that was impossible some years ago. To me it's also fun how the fans live it all. Sometimes what they say is right, sometimes it's not. As a coach, I follow what the people say, but in the end you are the coach and the one running the show.

When I use Twitter, the most important thing I can give to the fans is gratitude. I thank them for being there for us, because we would not be where we are without our fans. Without fans we are nothing. Fans, for us, are almost part of the team. When you have fans care about you, good or bad, that means you are part of their lives and they want you to do things right. We have to understand that. They will not make the baskets, Pablo Laso won't make the baskets, but everybody is pushing a little bit in the same direction to help the team win games. On another perspective, I like to retweet, for instance, things that I think are interesting and not necessarily about basketball. Things that I think can help people, things that I think can make people understand a bit more about who is Pablo Laso. I think that interaction is great. I won't be tweeting all the time, first of all because I do not have the time, but I think that the intercation has to be there and it's valuable for the team.