It’s a very slow trend, but a few athletic departments have started promoting personal Twitter accounts of student-athletes on their various communication platforms. At first, I loved the idea. I’m a firm believer student-athletes should be allowed to use social media. It’s about education, not elimination. So, why not give fans an inside look into what it’s like to be a student-athlete? Why not elevate the student-athletes who engage responsibly on social media?
But lately, I’ve had concerns. It’s not about student-athletes saying the wrong thing on social media (though of course, that is a worry)… I’m concerned about promoting student-athlete accounts for two things they can’t control: criticism & crazy.
Criticism is a part of life, and sooner or later, we all have to learn how to deal with it. The criticism student-athletes face on social media though is not the normal, constructive criticism received from a coach, job review, etc. Irrational fans get on social media after a loss and start name-calling, blaming, etc. Criticism on social media is rarely constructive.
If a student-athlete chooses to be on Twitter or any other social media platform, they have to face the reality… criticism will come. No doubt, people find student-athlete Twitter handles whether or not the school promotes them.
The issue: Do schools want to be the avenue for people to find student-athlete accounts, especially if that person only tweets negativity?.
2. Crazed Fans, Stalkers, etc.
Social media gives fans a peek inside student-athletes lives like they’ve never had before; it also gives fans direct access to communicate with student-athletes.
Unfortunately, this direct access and peek inside personal lives can lead to not-so-good situations- stalkers, people who take advantage, etc. Again, this could happen whether or not the school promotes the student-athlete Twitter accounts.
The issue: If an athletic department promotes personal Twitter accounts of student-athletes, and one of those student-athletes gets a stalker via social media, is the school accountable? After all, the stalker saw the Twitter handle on the athletic department website.
It’s something to think about.
Protecting student-athletes should be priority, so for me, it all comes down to accountability with the athletic departments. If a program promotes personal social media accounts, and something goes array (like a stalker), are the schools accountable? I understand this isn’t something everyone will deal with, but there is always that chance. Schools need to have a plan in place, just in case…
What do you think? Is promoting the personal social media accounts of student-athletes a do or a don’t?