Words have power and tweeting especially can get you into trouble. With people getting social media accounts at younger and younger ages, it is very likely that current athletes and the college athletes of tomorrow will have had accounts for years before heading into college. The challenge is that: anything EVER said on social media, can and will be used against you. Saying something offhanded after a tough loss when you’re 15 years old could actually ruin your career. It’s kind of crazy to think about, but it’s absolutely true. Then, when you get to college, everything you say is not only a reflection of you, but the program you’re involved in and the college you attend. A racial slur, sexual statement or even a comment about other team’s fans can get you in quite a bit of trouble.
With this in mind man colleges have started instituting social media bans during the season. Colleges like Clemson, Florida State, Purdue, Iowa and Louisville have all instituted such bans. They cite things like the fact that they are protecting their players as they implement them, but you have to wonder, what they’re actually teaching them?
Businesses have the ability to control some of what their employees say on social media because they are representatives of their company. The catch with student athletes is that colleges are going above and beyond to maintain that student athletes are NOT employees. There has long been a debate about the limitations of these student’s abilities to make money. Other students on scholarship have the opportunity to work, student athletes do not. The school makes hundreds of thousands of dollars off of them, their pictures, their jersey sales, required appearances etc, but the students are not entitled to any of that money. So, limiting their First Amendment Rights may backfire in the near future.
45% of college athletes say that they have had NO social media training!
3% say that they have posted DURING one of their games!
37% say they have posted something that they regret!
This scrutiny isn’t going to go away when they turn pro. In fact, they’ll have a bigger audience and it could have even greater consequences. There is no way to stop EVERY post that can have consequences from happening, but we can slow it down if we take the time to educate our players. Teach them just what is on the line and what they have to lose. Let them know, this absolutely COULD and WILL happen to you if you do any of these things. J.J. Watt suggests that you read each post at least 95 times before you actually post something. Make sure it is something you want out there, forever. If it is something offensive in ANY WAY you can be sure that someone saw it and took a screen shot of it. Nothing goes away any more.
It’s still new that everything you say from the time you have your first social media account through the rest of your life will be available and held against you. Politicians have been fired because of something they tweeted nearly 10 years ago. Athletes will face the same scrutiny. As I mentioned before it will affect any endorsements that may ever be offered. Trouble makers are less likely to be drafted first or second round.