In our world today, social media is everywhere and is involved in what seems like every place in the world, including sports. When it comes to social media in sports, most people just consider it from a fans perspective. Not many think of how this can alter life for athletes.
Many of the sports worlds biggest personalities are all over social media.
This may be great for the fans, but how does it affect the players, especially on the college level? A high school football coach, who wished not to be named for the sake of his players told me “athletes are throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime over 140 characters.”
What he was referring to was how many college coaches monitor their players social media accounts, and even monitor the accounts of players they are recruiting as potential players to give scholarships to play for their program.
“If I am a college coach looking at two kids with similar talent levels, and one has said things I don’t find appropriate on Twitter while the other one hasn’t, you can guess which one I want to play for my team,” the coach said about how social media can affect players. “I have seen it happen to kids in my program. They send one bad tweet and a college coach sees it and pulls their offer.”
It has become such a risk for players to use, it is hard to believe that so many players still use it, and still put things out their that could put their reputations, or their careers in jeopardy.
College coaches are monitoring their players and recruits Twitter accounts on a regular basis, and have not been secretive about it. Recently, an assistant coach at SMU tweeted out a photo of how he stays updated on his recruits on Twitter.
There have been plenty of incidents like the one with Ohio State Quarterback, Cardale Jones, and the tweet that got him in hot water with his coaches and university.
Or even worse, there have been cases like Mississippi State Basketball player DJ Gardner, who got kicked off his team for his words on social media.
With so much negativity involved with social media and college athletes, we tend not to hear about the positive things going on surrounding this. I sat down with Senior tennis player at the University of Toledo, Emily Mazzola, who knows the negative affects social media can have on players, and has even been through mandatory courses through her schools athletic department, on how to handle yourself appropriately on social media.
Emily’s experiences give a first hand account on how social media can affect the life of an athlete. She is always thinking twice before posting on social media. Her identity as a college athlete, and representing her team and university, shape her identity on social media. Whether it is the training her and her teammates receive, or trying to create a positive image for herself online, social media is affecting her life, and in a not always positive way.
For athletes, Twitter may be a dangerous risk. On the other hand, for the fans, it is a tool that enhances the experience of being a fan. I reached out to University of Michigan senior, Nick D’Alessandro, who is a massive sports fan, and got some input on how social media like Twitter can make being a fan even more enjoyable.
Nick’s experience with social media shows how social media can enhance the fan experience for anyone with an interest in sports. After interviewing him, it was clear that he didn’t find much negative at all about his social media experience as a fan.
Overall social media can be used to enhance peoples lives, and get them more in touch with the world around them, and allow them to see thing they never would have seen before especially in the sports world in relation to fans. When it comes to the athletes themselves, the ones who make sports possible, they need to walk a tight rope, and be as presentable as possible, or it can be detrimental to their careers. Just as DJ Gardner, or any player that have lost opportunities of a lifetime over social media. The coach I interviewed said it best: “Athletes are throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime over 140 characters.”
So I think we have figured it out… For the fans, Twitter may be a great teammate. For the athletes, it is a bit of a different story.