Social Media in College Sports: Teammate or Opponent?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Interview with Emily Mazzola

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.

Interview With Nick D’Allesandro



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.



Internet Comments

In a world where so many people get a large amount of their information, news, and much more from the internet, one place that they shoudl not be getting it from is the comments section of any website. At times people may give some helpful insight in the comments section, but most of the time, that is not the case. Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 2.45.47 PM

That is why I believe the internet comments section causes more harm than good.

The main problem with the comments section is that on most websites, people are leaving these comments anonymously. When you don’t have to put your name behind what you are saying, then you will be more likely to say outlandish, or disrespectful, or offensive things to people. This happens all the time on website comments sections. A website called ‘Popular Science’ recently took down its comments section from its website because it believed “Internet comments, particularly anonymous ones, undermine the integrity of science and lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse”. This is very true and can lead to things being on websites that don’t need to be there. If I am reading a Popular Science article, I don’t want to see people arguing in the comments section or trying to undermine the information presented in the article.

Along with the issue of anonymity comes the idea that people face no consequence when posting rude or offensive comments on internet sites. It is something we see all the time on websites like YouTube. People will post mean things on videos that are completely unnecessary and could just be left unsaid. Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 2.55.44 PM

YouTube is filled with comments like this and to be quite honest, the comments section has no other good use. YouTube and plenty of other sites would be just as good, or even better off without a comments section.

Just recently the Chicago Sun Times and all the other sites that it runs has ceased allowing comments on its site now as well. They are working to develop a new comments section where it will be more policed and allow better commenting that actually helps enhance their articles rather than bash or troll anyone. They still have Facebook and Twitter accounts so people can still interact with the Chicago Sun Times until they find a way to develop this new comments section. I believe that it will be a much better alternative to what most comments sections are now and it would be better than just doing away with comments completely because sometimes they can be insightful.

They even issued a letter to their readers on what is happening with their comments and how they are working to improve it. I believe that they are headed in the right direction, but until they find a way to do away with trolling and non-useful comments, that the internet is just better off without them, because they are doing more bad than good.


Journalist Profile

When people think college sports the first things that come to mind are football and basketball, the two money makers for the NCAA and for most universities. One person who is trying to change that is John Buccigross, an ESPN SportsCenter anchor with a love for college hockey, or “#CawlidgeHawkey” as he says it. Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.26.05 AM

Buccigross anchors SportsCenter on ESPN regularly and hosts segments on the NCAA hockey and the NHL, which do not traditionally get much love on ESPN. Other that talking about them on TV, Buccigross, or “Bucci Mane” as he calls himself, is a huge social media presence in the hockey world, most especially on Twitter. Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.29.36 AMHe has a massive Twitter following of over 285,000 and is most known on Twitter for his #BucciOvertimeChallenge and Bucci Mane College Hockey Top 10. His top 10 are a weekly ranking of the best college hockey teams in the country, which gets a lot of attention because nobody else with this much of a following really covers college hockey.

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The #BucciOvertimeChallenge is a contest that he runs on Twitter. Whenever a big hockey game goes into overtime, people will guess who they think will score the overtime game winning goal, and tweet it out with the hashtag #bucciovertimechallenge. Once somebody scores, Buccigross selects usually 3 winners at random and sends them a t-shirt for their victory.

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It may seem like something goofy or simple, but it is drawing attention into hockey and especially college hockey that it would not be getting. There have been millions of tweets with the hashtag #bucciovertime challenge and this gives people more incentive to tune into the games and something like this wouldn’t be possible without social media. Twitter, and one journalist who has a huge social media following are helping bring love and attention to a sport that doesn’t regularly get it. Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.49.38 AM

Photo Story

A former Eastern Michigan University football player let me record some of his workout routine, but under one condition: I would have to go through the workout with him… Lets hope the pictures were worth the pain I went through in this workout.

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Using Your Head… To Protect Your Head

In the past few years concussions have been a massive problem in the football world. From retired NFL players passing much too young from brain related issues all the way down to young boys not being allowed to play the game anymore because the danger is too much of a risk.


Hits like this cause an entire stadium to gasp in fear, and this happens far too often.

There have been many ideas brought up to try and combat this to make football the safest game it can be. Many believe it has to start with teaching the fundamentals properly and teaching players the proper way to hit and play safe at a young age. Others believe changes in rules and making football a less violent game are the way to go.

Riddell, a sports equipment company known for making football helmets, is trying to contribute to lowering the rate of concussions in their own way. They are just recently released a new helmet model called the Riddell SpeedFlex, which is said to be the most technologically advanced helmet available for players today, and many college programs are starting to adopt them.

The SpeedFlex has parts of the helmet engineered to flex and reduce impact on contact, and disperse the impact away from the brain. Many higher level models of the helmet actually feature a computer system built into them that measures hit speed and how the players head moves on impact. These measurements can be seen on the sidelines of the football field, and can be used to help determine whether or not a player is concussed. This would prevent players from continuing to play while concussed, which also has been an issue along with head injuries.

Player safety is a huge element of the game and can always improve. With schools like Arkansas and Florida State incorporating this technology into their programs, it would be great to see the number of concussions amongst student athletes go down. With Riddell introducing technologies like this, you have to assume the future is bright in this category, and that we can see less of this.

FILE - This is an Oct. 26, 2009, file photo showing Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith holding his head after a hard hit by Atlanta Falcons' Lawyer Milloy during the fourth quarter of a football game in Philadelphia. Smith suffered a concussion and Milloy was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play. In dozens of interviews across the NFL this week, The Associated Press found players voicing nearly unanimous support for changes in league policies on concussions. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Data Representation

Every year around January and February there is a huge hype about what high school seniors will be signing with what schools. But in reality, that is all that it is: HYPE. Football games are won on the field and not by getting recruits that were ranked highly by a bunch of guys who have never played football before. This data visualization I found is a graph from SB Nation that charts NCAA football teams expected talent versus their actual success winning football games.

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This graph shows which teams are better at recruiting and which teams are better at playing football. This graph illustrates these statistics in a way that would be much harder to do by just writing an article. This graph is able to give data of all 128 FBS schools in one picture. It would take pages of writing to write all of this in an article. Though this data visualization did have an article with it as well, the main focus of the article was the graphic. It was the first thing after the title and was bigger than anything else on the page. Another element of it is that it is simple to read and easy to understand. You are able to read it very quickly and would not need to spend a ton of time breaking it down, which in all reality, nobody takes more than a minute or so to look at a data visual anyways.

This article also brings to light something that is usually not discussed in college football. Usually recruiting and actual football are looked in a way as two separate things. You see things on ESPN about ‘winning in recruiting’ or ‘winning on the field’. They never usually are mixed together and there isn’t much discussed about who can do both or who has the talent that isn’t panning out. It is bring a new element to the college football world because schools will want to fall right in the middle of the chart or be on the side of being better on the field. It makes a story out of something that never really was a story before, all by inserting a graphic into an article.

Which NCAA Football Teams Outplay their Recruit Rankings