College Coaches are Watching Your Twitter

Well this is a surprise – or maybe it isn’t. Depends on your point of view.

A living legend, the basketball coach from Duke University Mike Krzyzewski, admitted this week that he uses an alias on Twitter to track his players. He didn’t admit as much but we can assume that he is also using Twitter to track potential high school recruits. According to a story at Sporting News, Coach K. admitted to ESPN that:Duke_text_logo

“I follow guys,” he said. “I don’t want to be on Twitter because I don’t care. I don’t want their opinions. I don’t need to show that I have X amount of followers. But I follow a lot of people on Twitter, under an alias. I tell my guys I’m following you. Then if I see something, you text them, you gotta watch.”

From what we’ve seen, a lot of highs school athletes don’t get this. They view Twitter as their private soapbox – even when their account is public – to tweet all sorts of inappropriate things:

  • Taunting opponents
  • Foul language
  • Cyberbullying
  • Retweeting or favoriting inappropriate content posted by others (Hey, it was funny!)
  • Content that is or could be interpreted as being hateful, racist or homophobic
  • Underage drinking and drug references
  • Anything that makes you look like less than a serious student athlete

Doing an of the above doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but it might make you look like a risky choice for that scholarship that you’re after.

In Coach K.’s case, he is not a social media aficionado – he is just doing it to cover his bases. You can bet that he has someone of his staff that is a digital native; who tracks players and recruits diligently looking for signs that existing players might hurt the program or that potential recruits might be a bad risk.

Student athletes’ social media can be a great platform to raise visibility and connect with a program that they want to play for. It doesn’t come without risk, though.

By keeping everything professional and presenting the image of a player that the school wants to attract, social media in general and Twitter specifically can give student athletes a boost while avoiding the pitfalls.



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High School Athletes and Online Trash Talking – Who is the Referee?

A modest survey conducted this month by a small Midwest publication does a nice job illustrating some data about high school HS-FOOTBALLathletes and social media that could give pause to parents of kids who think their kid is on a scholarship track.

Ohio’s The Suburbabite is in the middle of a multi part series titled “Digital Impact: Social Media’s Effect on High School Sports”, and in Part II, the author looks at real data about how many high school athletes are using social media, and how they are using it. The numbers, from the survey of 110 athletes:

  • 100% of high school athletes use social media
  • 84% use social media to communicate about the sport they play
  • Of those, 99% use it to communicate with teammates
  • 24% use it to communicate with opposing players
  • 33% use it to interact with fans or others
  • Overall, 14% of respondents said they see “a lot” of negative conversation or trash talking on social media sites in regard to their sport
  • 80% said social media has an impact on games and rivalries
  • In football, 24% of respondents characterized social media as having a major impact on rivalries

According to the kids surveyed, 14% of respondents see a lot of trash talking. There’s no indication of how many see “some” the-suburbanitetrash talking, but we’ll bet that’s a much bigger number. Of the 24% of players who admit to reaching out to opposing players via social media, raise your hand if you think they’re checking in to see what time the game is scheduled for. They aren’t.

Most of this action is happening on Twitter, the most popular network for sports interactions at any age. Based on our observations, most athletes’ accounts are set to public. The stuff happening on there, positive and negative, is not only being seen by fans and players; college recruiters and coaches are seeing it too. What looks like friendly trash talking to your kid may look far different to a recruiter who doesn’t understand the rivalries and the history.

We know that spirits run high in high school sports, and heated exchanges are frequent on the field and off. There are referees present to police the on-field exchanges. As a parent, you need to get a handle on what your teen is up to online. There’s a permanent record, and coaches are looking too.


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