High School: College and College Bound Athletes Better Mind Their P’s & Q’s on Twitter, Facebook…

And to think that when I was in high school, the new big thing was calculators (ok, you under 40 crowd, stop laughing). Man, have things changed; and changed a lot.

Heck, when we wanted to send someone a message, a note, we wrote it down on a piece of notebook paper, folded it up into a solid triangular mass that we could flick across a room to our recipient or pass to them by hand. It was either that or we waited until we got home to call them, that is if we wanted to keep anyone from intercepting that note we tossed across the room.

And for many of us, that phone call was made on a rotary dialed telephone (for you young’uns, that’s a phone with a dialing mechanism that spun, no buttons) that was connected to the wall with wires!!! (Stop that laughing again.)

I mean the chances of someone creating a real problem for themselves based on something they might write to a friend, a choice set of words that could be misinterpreted or taken out of context, was pretty slim in my day. You pretty much had to verbalize it so others could hear, or for media to overhear if you were a celebrity or professional athlete.

Now that Facebook and more recently Twitter have taken over the communication stratosphere, those funny, crazy, or semi-hateful things you might say in jest, or stupid, thoughtless things you might do with friends, are being plastered all over cyberspace with just a click of the send button. And the media is having a field day with them putting athletes’ reputations and the programs they play for (or could play for) at risk.

In fact, as reported in the New York Times piece, Tracking Twitter, Raising Red Flags, there are cyber watchdog type companies out there whose sole purpose is to track and keep close tabs on athletic cyberspace behavior. And universities are hiring them to protect themselves and their programs from embarrassing, rule-breaking circumstances that can hurt their bottom line ($$$) as much as their reputations. NCAA sanctions and penalties are never a good thing.

Rather than get into a discussion about whether this type of “spying” violates anyone’s civil rights or not, something the NY Times article delves into, I would like to take a different perspective. One that centers on making better choices by the athlete.

You see, as much as one might complain about, or take issue with, the loss of their personal right to privacy (something I might certainly agree with depending on the circumstance), using your head to think before you act is probably a better strategy for protecting yourself, your family, and your school.

With that in mind, here are several questions to keep in mind before posting comments, events and/or happenings on social media. Ask yourself BEFORE you post:

  • Is what you’re doing, or about to say, unethical, maybe even illegal?
    If so, best to leave it unsaid. And with regard to things that are illegal, best to stay away from those altogether. Ladies and gentleman, character does count!!!
  • What would your parents think?
    If your parents knew what you were doing, posting, saying, would they feel it appropriate? Would they be embarrassed at your statement or behavior?
  •  And what about your grandparents, what impression of you might you leave with them?
    There are some instances it might be even more appropriate to think about how your grandparents would react. Usually, they come from a time when ethical standards were a little more, shall we say, grounded.
  • Could it hurt someone, others?
    Using a little common sense here will go a long way in keeping you from making enemies, putting yourself, and your athletic career at risk.
  • Would you want what you are about to say be said about you?
    Remembering, and applying, this proverb will benefit you greatly; do to others as you would have them do to you.

As always, this is not a comprehensive list. I am sure many of you reading this will have ideas of your own to add, and please feel free to do so. I will add them to the list as they come in, even give you credit for them by posting your first name.

And keep in mind that anything you put out there in the cyber world  can become available for ALL to see, everywhere!!! One share on Facebook (FB) by someone you’re friends with, and who has their FB set to public, or retweet on Twitter, and poof what you posted could go viral!!!

Ok, now that that’s over, where did I leave my Twitter password, “Honey…”

Leave a comment