By now, you’re probably aware of the fact that NCAA coaches and scouts are watching social media very closely. The use it to communicate with recruits, and they use it to help assess athletes who they may be recruiting.
How closely they are looking at it, and how much time they spend analyzing it, might come as a surprise. Of course, one might assume that if a high school athlete posts something online that is clearly racist or sexist, or portraying him doing something illegal, that might be a black mark against him. It turns out that some coaches are taking a much more nuanced view. From Penn State Football Coach James Franklin interviewed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“Franklin said social media gives the staff a window into who a prospect is based on his tweets, retweets, likes and follows. It can turn them on or off to a kid based on what they find.
Social media posts in the wee hours of the morning on school nights or repeated posts with inappropriate content can be met with a red flag from the staff. ”
For the Penn State program, it’s not just what a player tweets, but also who he follows, which posts he likes and which he retweets.
That can be a high bar for kids who aren’t thinking about football 24×7. If you see something that’s funny, of course your impulse might be to fav it, or retweet it. Well, doing that could be sending a bad message.
Our message isn’t that high school athletes should muzzle their sense of humor, or that they have to be constantly thinking about their sport and their prospects. Rather, they need to keep the less serious moments offline, and not forever posted for anyone to see. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
It seems that the Florida State football program doesn’t want to take the risk that their existing players might post something inappropriate. Effective today, all players are banned from social media entirely until the end of the season.
We hope that this doesn’t become a trend. Perhaps if players don’t give coaches a reason to be concerned, it won’t need to be.
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