College athletes use social media platforms regularly. However, the accounts often come under scrutiny owing to the athletes’ role as public representatives of their schools. It is common for athletes to indulge in questionable activities on the platforms because of the lack of guidance on managing online reputation.
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How College Athletes Use Social Media
According to a recent survey, 23.1 percent of college athletes admitted to posting tweets with inappropriate content. The posts contained racial or sexual content, or content that involved drug/alcohol abuse, violence, or profanity. The percentage of athletes posting objectionable content on Facebook stood at 22.3 percent, while 14.3 percent of athletes posted such content on Instagram.
On the other hand, 5 percent of college athletes have received hateful or critical content on Twitter. Half of the athletes responded to the hateful or critical messages.
Impact of Reckless Behavior on Social Media
Athletics departments face a wide range of challenges because of social media. The problems are difficult to predict. Once mistakes have been made, colleges have to deal with the fallout. Some of the ripple effects manifest in the form of legal trouble, athletes outing themselves, or athletes losing focus because of content posted on social media.
Many athletics departments have responded to the issue by educating athletes on the importance of managing online reputation. Sports directors underline the need for athletes to know that social media can be a friend or enemy. The nightmare is exacerbated by the inherent danger posed by the digital era. Anyone with a camera phone can be a reporter when he or she witnesses inappropriate behavior by public figures.
College students are warned constantly about the downsides of social media. Some of the consequences of bad behavior have the potential to follow students out of educational institutions and into the workplace, thus undermining careers. The impact of today’s socially transparent world is more amplified when it comes to athletes, given their public stature.
Many athletic programs monitor athletes’ social media activity. Some, such as Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter, have gone a step further by banning the use of Twitter during the season. A significant number of athletes, including Indiana University (IU) junior guard Yogi Ferrell, abstain from the platforms on their own accord. The aim is to avoid any distraction.
Meanwhile, some schools encourage the use of social media for the purposes of enhancing professional training.
NCAA’s New Social Media Rules
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopts new legislation annually. The majority of the new rules do not attract much attention, but this is not the case with the association’s latest tweak in the rule book.
Previously, coaches were allowed to privately message or follow recruits on social platforms. However, coaches were not permitted to like or share recruits’ posts. In other words, they had to feign players’ nonexistence.
NCAA Proposal 2015-48 changed this status quo. Staff members of athletics departments can now tag, like, republish, or favorite user-generated social media content. The content generators include any individual other than representatives of an institution’s athletics interests and institutional staff members.