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Student Athletes: Twitter, Facebook and Other Social Networking Sites

Surely you all remember this logo. -Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The collision of adolescence and newfound responsibility is a continuing event that plays out in every person’s life. For some, it takes place far past when it should; for others, entirely too soon. But for a college athlete, the time seems about right for maturation to commence and the individual must then take charge of his or her own life.

Responsibilities are abundant for all entering college, but I would argue Division I collegiate athletes, many whom are never asked to level any kind of responsibility in high school outside of the court, field, diamond or pitch, are asked to show a certain standard of behavior and compliance unequalled by any other organization at their budding age.

And rightfully so.

College athletes are given a chance that most at our age could only dream of. Not only is the opportunity to play a game the rest of your life seemingly within reach, but just the simple idea of garnering a career that would place one within a comfortable living, within a passion that an individual feels has become the new “American dream.”

With this kind of opportunity and the experience that will come once in many lifetimes, should expectations and stipulations exist? Should these student athletes not be measured on a higher note than their peers? With more ability, does there not come more responsibility?

They are the faces of their university, the NCAA organization and the ones that are being given ample opportunity to not only survive through college like many of us hope to achieve, but thrive; not only in college but in the next step of their lives. And therefore, these students must be thoughtful, disciplined and take punishment for when they slip up, as every one regrettably does at many points in their life. Slipping up for a college athlete can be in the form of getting caught drunk at a party under the age of 21, falling below GPA requirements in a term, or even making comments within social networking sites that bring bad light upon themselves or the university in which they attend and represent.

A slip-up I will continue to make until I die.

I’ll be speaking about the latter in this article. For millions of Americans aged 16-25, social networking has become a large part of their life and in the last few years, it’s finally made its way into the rest of the population as well. Commercials from companies that list their Twitter or Facebook accounts is abundant and social networking ad services make millions upon millions off corporations attempting to advertise a new line or promote a new product.

The truth is, social network sites have become so pervasive in our lives that you cannot possibly escape the mention of them in your daily lives, let alone ask a young athlete to stay off them as some older talking heads have stated should be a rule for the respective athletic departments.

Surely, instilling a rule that would disallow the usage of social networking sites by college athletes would not only be wrong, but would also in the end be unenforceable as students find more cunning ways to participate. I would guess that most would stick to the rule and entirely not be involved in these sites, but the problem does not lie with those types of students. The problem lies with students who do not listen to the recommendations and warnings of their coaches about the repercussions of speaking out on social networking about personal sporting issues or controversial topics.

Social networking works upon the idea of instantaneous and constant communication between individuals, and with instantaneity, word vomit is amuck. When the typical mode of communication was by mail, one had not only the whole time it took to handwrite the letter, but the time before the postman came to think about what he had said. Now you have the second before you push “Enter” or “Post” until the whole world gets a glance at a picture of Chris Cooley’s dick or Hayley Williams’ tits.

Recently, Michigan State University players spoke about their feelings of inner-state rival Michigan’s play against Alabama over Twitter. The tweets were later taken down, but the news media had already gotten a hold of them, showing you how quickly a reputation can be questioned with this technology.

A rivalry that has grown the last four years to new heights.

Diamond Leung of MLive.com quotes some of the tweets he found below:

“Is this guy really a QB I’ll say my mans (walk-on Tommy Vento) is a better QB lol,” linebacker Denicos Allen tweeted. “S/O to my boy vento by the way.”

“DENARD IS SOOOO BAD!” safety Kyle Artinian tweeted. “And it makes me feel so good.”

“I can play quarterback for the school in blue,” linebacker Jamal Lyles tweeted. “(Le’Veon Bell) for heisman > the other guy in the great state of michigan.”

Later, as we know, Coach Mark Dantonio took care of the issue calling the tweets “disrespectful” and forcing his players to apologize to the media. The tweets surely are uncharacteristic of a Dantonio-coached football team, and maybe that’s the scary part. While surely we won’t see any more of this kind of talk on social networking from the Spartans, the same cannot be said for other schools. And, when speaking about social networking scandals, this one is quite low on the totem pole.

The point is this: If Michigan State football players can be spoken to at length about their social networking habits before the season and still slip up, other players from other schools are going to have a similar problem. Social networking is too pervasive in our lives and scandal too mouth-watering for it not to happen.

But where do we draw the line for these student athletes? How far is too far on social networking? What topic is too controversial, what words should not be used?

My feelings are this: We would all like to think common sense is something that we all enjoy. And most student athletes will be able to adequately use it. But, for some, social networking can be and will be a problem during their time at the university they attend. The University of Kentucky and Louisville use approaches that seem a bit intrusive (which you can read about here) than my liking. This type of overreach will not stop students from using social networking irresponsibility, but only will help adequately punish the student or students involved.

If something is said that is too unkind, too disrespectful or another dick ends up on my newsfeed, the press and media interns that make a living by hitting F5 on their keyboards (or Apple-R for Mac users) will let us all know exactly what happened. Until then, coaches should keep giving their social networking speeches at the beginning of the year and hope for the best. If incidents occur, punishments must be handed out. But on no condition should the ability of a student to participate in social networking (besides during games and other various times) be questioned.

Now, I’d like to hear how you feel about the issue. Do you feel differently than I do? Do you think that student athletes should have to give access of their social networking accounts to university officials? Should student athletes not even be allowed to use social networking sites at all, or during the season?

Where should the line be drawn?  

Comment below or coincidentally on our Twitter or Facebook!

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About Mike Gazdik

Born in Detroit, raised in Warren, MI and now located in Grand Rapids, Mike has lived in Michigan his whole life: totaling 22 years. He currently is Vice-President of The Farm Club, a blog that is growing daily with new writers and readers. He enjoys offering research driven articles on many different subjects, but mostly American football. The goal of The Farm Club is to give aspiring college writers the ability to write on what topics really get them ticking, while sharing their insight and feelings with a large reader base. www.thefarmclub.net If you think you'd like to contribute to The Farm Club, contact the blog on Twitter, Facebook or through email. Information is listed on the blog's webpage.

View all posts by Mike Gazdik

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