Recruiting & Scouting

Don't Press Send: High schools athletes should be mindful of what they post on social media

Coaching   | Branden Hunter

Don't Press Send: High schools athletes should be mindful of what they post on social media

When I first joined the wonderful world of Twitter in 2011, I used to tweet whatever I wanted to; and I mean whatever. As young man, I really could care less about what I said, so whatever came to mind was jotted down in 140 characters or less.

Being a huge rap fan, which aren't exactly High School Musical lyrics all the time, I tweeted things I would never tweet now. Then again I wasn't even thinking about being a sports writer, or had college coaches and other important people following me. I was in school for nursing, and my only followers were three of my cousins. 

Then I made a career change. Which means I had to change my content on Twitter. Which led to me eventually changing my name on Twitter, and changing how I now viewed social media as a whole.

Social media has changed the game forever now; especially Twitter. Just about everyone has an account; 250 million people worldwide to be exact. Every major company, well-known celebrity, elite athlete, and even our President, Barack Obama, is on Twitter.

Their mission statement  says "To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers." But in fact, Twitter does have barriers for those who hold a position of power. You just won't see Obama, or LeBron James, or even Wal-mart for that matter, tweet obscene things, unless they're prepared to face some unwanted controversy. 

Which brings me to my next point, of high school athletes on Twitter potentially damaging their reputation, one character  or emoji at a time. Believe it or not, high school athletes hold a position of power as well, and it's their own destiny. Most would tell you that their goal is to play their respective sport at the next level, but no college coach wants a student-athlete who tweets foul language, says controversial things for attention or retweets, and has no filter for what they choose to post on Twitter.

There have been plenty of stories regarding this issue, where schools have stopped recruiting a player because of their content on Twitter, or even pulling scholarships. Remember Yuri Wright in 2012? Well he was a highly-touted football prospect out of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. 

Long story short, he was once considered to be going to his dream school of Michigan, but when the Wolverines found out about the language he was using on his Twitter page, they denied him that opportunity, revoking their scholarship offer. Wright was still able to go on to college at Colorado, but his eagerness to tweet whatever that was on his mind at the time stopped him from playing big-time football, at a great academic institution. 
Social media etiquette has stormed its way into the recruiting process, and is being talked about more and more now at camps, and among the coaching staffs. I've talked to college coaches that say they check a recruits social media to see what type of person they are off the field. And of they spot something that raised a red flag, they would stop recruiting that player. I also know of many high school coaches who patrol Twitter to see what their players are saying. It just looks bad for everyone involved.

I can remember a player asking me to follow him back on Twitter last year, something I have no problem doing. But I told him that I refused to right now, but eventually would, if he agreed to take the N-word out of his biography. 

He took it down, and I followed back, but it made me think, how does someone expect to go "D1", but has disgracing words like that associated with their name. ICDC College wouldn't let you enroll in their school using language of that nature if they had a team. 

Instagram and Facebook might be even worse, with the ability to post videos and longer post of those respective sites. Once I started being a writing, I knew I had to keep my social media pages clean, and get rid of anything that I even thought would land me in some trouble.

Freedom of speech is encouraged in our country, but sometimes you have to restrain yourself from saying what is on your mind at the time. Are those 140 characters worth more than a college opportunity? Is swearing the only way you know how to express yourself? What if Twitter was deleted tomorrow, would you still talk that way in public?

Some top high school athletes I know aren't even on Twitter of any type of social media, because the best way not to get in trouble is to say nothing at all. Despite all the negative things that Twitter and sites of it's kind can bring, there are many positives to it. It's okay to tweet, and be on Instagram, Facebook, and Vine, if for one second you think you could get in trouble for posting something, don't press send.