SCOTTSDALE – Social media is a double-edged sword. In one instance, it allows us to create and build a platform for society to see us, as we want to be portrayed, but on the other hand it can ruin you with a click of a button.
Recently, social media has been a large factor when recruiting players for collegiate sports.
“All of these college recruiters are on social media monitoring players that they are already interested in but also use it as a tool to discover new players,” Saguaro football coach Jason Mohns said. “It’s a great marketing tool.”
According to Mohns, students can use social media to “promote themselves, put their highlight videos out, display the kind of character they have and show the dedication they have towards their team.”
Pew Research Center did a study (Lenhart,2015) that found 92 percent of teens are online daily, while 71 percent of those teens use more than one social media platform.
According to the study, 71 percent of teens are using Facebook, 52 percent are using Instagram, and 33 percent are using Twitter, which is 8 percent lower than Snapchat.
Athletic Business posted their best ways for student athletes to use social media is by giving thanks to their friends, family and fans who come to the games along, supporting other student athletes or events their school and sharing good or humorous news.
“There’s a lot of positives they can do with it,” Mohns said. “It’s a way to get their name and who they are, out in front of college coaches.”
Jeff Sullivan, a sports journalist in the Walter Cronkite School, was a high school athlete for Cordova High in 2010. “We had a recruiting video site which was nice for us to put all our highlight film and videos on,” Sullivan said. “If you’re a quarter back like I was they’re definitely going to want you to be that prototypical fit in the mold, do nothing wrong, type of guy.”
Sullivan was looking forward to being recruited by college prospects, but unfortunately he was no longer able to play due to injuries, which occurred on the field.
With all the good that can come from student athletes using social media there is also the bad.
When a college is evaluating players there are a lot of different things they look into.
“In todays day and age, one of things that is evaluated and studied is what is on a kids twitter page,” Mohns said. “They’ll actually break it down and look for positive things like a kid re-tweeting a story about their game or a positive tweet to a teammate. They want to find out what kind of person they’re getting into their program for four years.”
In March 2014, Coach Singleton of Oklahoma State tweeted, “Had to un follow/stop recruiting a young man this evening. Still amazed by what recruits tweet/re-tweet. College coaches are watching.” Three months later Herb Hand of Penn State tweeted, “Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence. Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him.”
“It’s a great way to see someone’s character by the things they put out there for everyone to see,” said Mohns. “From talking to college coaches, when players either tweet or even re tweet something it’s basically like saying it yourself.”
Student athletes are just that, students. However, if they are looking to become a collegiate athlete, they must learn that what they post on the internet can never go away and realize that once they push the send button, it will be seen by more than the allowed audience.
“If the student athletes aren’t careful and aren’t thinking, they’re going to post things that could get them in trouble or something the schools might not want to be associated with,” said AZTV content producer Camaron Stevenson.
College prospects look for athletes who are not only a great player on the court but who also are and could be a good figure seen by society.
“It’s totally subjective and that’s the problem with it, Stevenson said. “One recruiter might see an underage player post a pic with a drink and not look into it but another recruiter think its terrible and stop looking into that particular player.”
“They break it down, like you would study a players film, Mohns said. “They look and say, this guy did well in this area but he needs some work in another; they kind of do the same thing for social media. It’s kind of a strength and weakness on what you’re putting out there through social media.”
Saguaros football team emphasizes the importance of good social media presence and uses it as part of its code of conduct. “We put a lot of thought into it in trying to educate our players and parents on ways they can use it positively, the ways it can hurt them and also the ways that we will not allow and that are a violation of the team rules,” Mohns said.
Social media is a growing influence throughout society. News, articles, and stories are all published and quickly translated to social media for a larger audience to see. With the growth rate of users on social media, student athletes should be cautious when handling their accounts and aware of how they display their character.