Recently via ESPN, a social media drama played out nationally as a Texas A&M football recruit and one of their coaches sparred via Twitter, over the perception of each other’s veiled tweets. There will be no good that will come out of this. The fall out is bad mostly for the football coach and his respective university. The fall out is additionally bad because it also shows how recruiting athletes in a social media world can go terribly awry. In fact, it’s not even relegated to “just.” recruiting. Look no further than Laremy Tunsil and what happened to him on what was supposed to be the greatest night/ moment of his young life.
A few years ago I wrote about and presented on the need to measure twice and cut once on anything you might say via social media, but rather than heed that foresight, we’ve all, as a society have collectively run in the opposite direction. Into the light, if you will.
What’s happening is, we’re collectively realizing at the same moment, it seems, that we have become the media. This means that 1) we have realized the power and potential of the digitally written word/visual world and we realize its impact; and 2) all of us have become comfortable with the notion that we’re all publishers, editors and commentators of our lives, your lives and even the lives of people we know nothing about.
Which brings me to these quick thoughts:
- Have we done a poor job of explaining the power of social to each other?
- You may have no followers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t listen.
- Everyone is a coach and will give you their 2 cents digitally
- Digital has not lessened the consequences of our actions.
- Athletes may have no fear but they always need to be accountable
- The phrase, “Act like you been there before,” still resonates
- Keep it in the clubhouse still works
- Team coaches need to have the social media talk with their teams
It really comes down to this. Organizations both large and small and teams of all sizes, have to have social media governance and policies that extend to their players and coaches, managers and staff. There’s too much on the line both personally and professionally as well as in the amateur ranks to not have the process and controls in place to deal with the coupling of social media and athletes. What you need to understand is that you may never have to worry about these types of issues but if and when it happens, you’re not in the dark as a coach or as an administrator.
The real question really comes down to this: What are you going to do when it happens?
What should you do? What does an org do about the athlete who posts Instagram pics of their party life? What do you do about the athletes who dis another player or team via Twitter? How bout the YouTube video of athletes behaving badly? What do you do? Who do you blame? Do you blame them? Because you know, we live in a transparent world now.
Going forward, athletes behaving badly via social media is not going away. The sooner you realize that as an org., the sooner you can prepare for what will happen. It’s not an if, it’s a when.