The first day of fall camp for the Clemson University football team was Aug. 3, and that also marked the occasion of players hanging up their hashtags until the winter. That means no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, no pokes, retweets or mentions until the pads are put back into storage.
The social media shutdown has become an annual activity for Clemson in recent years. During the season, players are not allowed to be active on their social media accounts, although they are not required to delete them and can continue to refer to them as information sources.
It’s a tactic that college coaches across the country have instituted. The goal is to get players to “focus” more or tune out the “distraction” of social media. Whether or not any of this helps with player performance during the season is, of course, up for debate.
Bottom line on #Clemson & social media: Tigers are 32-7 since player-initiated ban began 3 yrs ago. Best 3-year record in program history.— Scott Keepfer (@ScottKeepfer) August 18, 2015
Despite Clemson’s gaudy three-year record, attributing that success to players not using social media doesn’t make sense. The players from the 1998 team weren’t on social media either, and those guys went 3-8. I would, however, attribute some of the team’s recent success to the fact that they’ve played Wake Forest three times since the ban was instituted.
Clemson has come under fire from national media for the ban, with talking heads, sportswriters and sports figures from across the country weighing in.
Clemson is a public university, so it's possible a player could argue First Amendment infringed by social media ban: https://t.co/rNSQwPk97A— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) August 15, 2015
Dabo Swinney bans Clemson players from using social media, is no fun: http://t.co/qaBLxEZX1s— Deadspin (@Deadspin) August 15, 2015
Just got a text from a coach seeing this. "It's nuts. 'Come to Clemson. We'll treat you like you're 8 yrs old.'" https://t.co/On4Vh53Drv— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) August 15, 2015
But Clemson is different from other schools with such bans in that Tiger players had their say — voting each season since 2012 to limit themselves on social media. The ban is self-imposed.
There’s no question that social media is both a powerful tool and a dangerous toy. I, like many others, found out via Twitter that Osama bin Laden was killed. Social media can also enhance your “personal brand.” Puffed up personalities take to their social media accounts to fire off whatever thought might enter their mind, and their audiences eat it up.
However, for every example of social media success, there is an #epicfail, especially for public personalities (including college football players).
Fire off an unpopular opinion on social media, and you may find yourself making a public apology. Slide into the wrong person’s DMs and get publicly put on blast. Get dragged into a political argument … heaven help you.
Social media is full of perils and pitfalls. It’s a lesson that even professional social media managers learn the hard way, each and every day.
Sometimes, developing a set of personal guidelines for posting on social media is appropriate. Sometimes, it’s best to stay off social media entirely. Maybe football season is one of those occasions.
If Clemson’s football players have collectively said, “We’re just going to stay off of Facebook for a few months,” I say, let them. The musings of a 20-year old college student can wait a while.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to tweet this link to as many people as possible. Please click like and share.