It is a common occurrence when professional athletes pop-off and stay dumb things on FB, Twitter, email and texts. But it is even more difficult to police younger children who may not be quiet as aware of the ultimate repurcussions they could face.
When I teach my class at Northwestern, I always advise the students that anything posted online can and will be used against them at some point. Somehow, somewhere, someway all of those drunken images, party photos or other items will be viewed by propsective employers, dates, clients or investors.
More and more high schools are getting into the act of regulating these behaviors and implementing a mechanism where they work with the students to help them understand the ramifications of going public.
A good discussion here in Athletic Business:
Football coach Marc Wilson and his staff at Imhotep Institute Charter High School in Philadelphia “friended” several players last fall in an effort to monitor a “Facebook curfew,” which banned the team from posting anything on the site after 11 p.m. the night before a game. “We’ve seen it happen before where individuals start an exchange on Facebook, and it leads to something that becomes more physical and realistic,” Wilson told The Philadelphia Inquirer, adding that he could still monitor the activity of players who weren’t his “friends.” “They have friended someone, who’s a friend of someone we are friends with. So word eventually gets back.”
Wilson told Inquirer reporter Pat Gillespie that he had disciplined at least eight players for misusing Facebook — including senior Maurice Howard, who admitted that “when I was doing it, I wasn’t really thinking too much about the repercussions.”
Sports teams should use their school’s Facebook and social-networking policies as a guide for creating team policies, Kenny suggests. Like other codes of conduct, those policies should be read by players and parents, then signed and returned to coaches. And while the punishment for violating such policies must fit the crime, it also should be enforced as rigorously as every other team policy.
Ideally, teaching social-networking protocol is a schoolwide mission. “Every teacher needs to be drilling these Internet safety concepts into students, whether it’s on the football field or in a math class,” Kenny says.
In fact, with mobile devices already defining the next generation of social media, Facebook and whatever comes after it are only going to become more ubiquitous in the lives of student-athletes, readily at their fingertips all the time. He wouldn’t even be surprised if high school players begin hosting their own virtual press conferences, shooting an iPhone video from the field, posting it on YouTube and waiting for it to go viral.
“This is the way things are,” Kenny says. “And you’re not going to stop it.”