Social Media and the College Athlete

Mind your online presence; college recruiters want to know they're selecting individuals who make smart decisions, IRL and otherwise.

High school athletes interested in playing at the next level should be very cautious with their social media accounts. Every tweet, pin, and post can affect your opportunity for a scholarship offer.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are reflective of an athlete’s character and subsequently, affect their recruiting options, either positively or negatively. Anything you say can be taken out of context, and can hurt you and your reputation. There are countless stories of college recruits who lost scholarship offers due to poor decisions on social media. Sree Sreenivasan, the Chief Digital Officer at Columbia University said:

“This is a serious business. It can help you. It can hurt you. So you have to be careful. You have to understand, especially as an athlete, if you do have hopes of a professional career, that it could all be jeopardized in a single tweet, Facebook post or posting a photo on Instagram.”

You always need to be on your best behavior because you never know who might be watching. Consider this your warning: everyone’s watching, so don’t fool yourself! College coaches monitor all of their recruits’ social media activity. They don’t want players they have to babysit.

Obviously, athletic ability is the primary deciding factor for a coach. But, when candidates of similar abilities are considered for the same roster spot, a player’s academics, behavior, and character become the deciding factors. How an athlete handles the responsibility of social media speaks to their ability to use sound judgment.

Social media is not all bad for college recruits, though. It can be an excellent tool for athletes to connect with college coaches. The NCAA actually places fewer restrictions on communication via social media compared to phone calls and text messages. College coaches are making it a more important part of their recruiting strategy.

Also, let’s be realistic: these coaches aren’t expecting high school athletes to be public relations experts. They just want players that will make good decisions and positively represent their university. Chris Yandle, Director of Communications at the University of Miami, may have put it best when he said, “Live your life, don’t tweet your life.” If a recruit follows that rule, and guards against the pitfalls of social media, the college recruiting process will be much smoother.

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