The vast majority of young people have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, or both. They tend to put their random thoughts on Twitter, and more elaborate info and pictures on Facebook.
But increasingly, what young athletes post on either social medium is being scrutinized by college coaches, and weighed when recruiting. Sometimes, a potential recruit is dropped from consideration due to something she’s posted. Numerous colleges now school the athletes they already have about appropriate social networking, and they monitor what is posted.
Cal State Northridge Coach Jason Flowers has taken athletes off of his recruiting list after seeing their Twitter or Facebook posts. He said it is part of getting the entire picture of someone, to see if she’d fit into the Matador program.
“It is about not only the skill set, but who the character of the young woman is and what she does off the court,” Flowers said. “We take all this into consideration when we’re looking at an athlete.”
In recruiting, Flowers said he and his staff will talk to the athlete, her coach, and others who know her to get a picture of her character. Often times, what she puts on Twitter or Facebook is an affirmation of what he and his staff have already gleaned.
“It’s just one of the pieces on which we make a decision about whether or not to pursue an athlete,” Flowers said.
One mid-major coach said he and his staff have dropped athletes from consideration because their posts show patterns of not being able to handle relationships with maturity.
“If someone is constantly retweeting nonsense, personal stuff, drama, and using obscene language, we don’t need that type of person in our school,” the coach said. “Who cares if you’re fighting with your boyfriend/girlfriend? Who cares if you’re pissed at your friend/mom/dad/coach? Control yourself a bit.”
Another red flag is when an athlete has sexual content in her posts.
“We need to have high-character people around,” the coach said. “This place is too small for selfish drama queens, I think most programs follow recruits on twitter. I’ve heard a number of coaches tell me they dropped a kid because they follow the kid And her twitter feed is a ‘mess.'”
Seattle University Coach Joan Bonvicini said she’s not crossed a recruit off her list for social media posts, but she does ask them about their Twitter and Facebook participation.
“We have a social media seminar with our athletes every year at Seattle U,” Bonvicini said. “I do monitor what our recruits and current players post, and I do think most coaches do that as well.”
Flowers said he also talks with his players about what they post.
“I’ve had to explain to them that ‘www’ means the World Wide Web, and it has the ability to be seen across the world,” he said. “We represent ourselves and our program every day, so I tell them, don’t put up anything that would reflect badly upon yourself or this program in any way, whether it’s pictures or words used.”
Younger coaches are more apt to be on Twitter or Facebook than older coaches. But more and more veteran coaches now have another staff member monitor athletes on social networks, if they don’t do it themselves.
“It depends upon the program as to how much value they place on monitoring that,” Flowers said. “But most coaches do, in some way.”
Most top recruits and athletes are careful about what they say on social networks, but some still need to get the message: every post counts, and everyone can see it.