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The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

 

It's a message often found on Twitter that serves as a reminder to athletes who are active on social media.

An assistant coach at a Texas high school tweeted that a college coach told him he pulled four scholarship offers. The players who lost the offers had tweeted derogatory comments about women.

A Twitter account called Social Media Athlete, which focuses on social media's part in athletics, picked it up and spread the word. The South Carolina High School League followed by sharing it and added: "THINK...social media is not a toy."

There are constant reminders from parents, coaches and administrations aimed at young athletes who use social media.

Colleges look at athletes' accounts on outlets like Twitter and Instagram. Even those who aren't attempting to play college athletics are subject to social media review.

"We emphasize that what's out there stays out there," Evans baseball and softball coach Ricky Beale said. "We ask, 'Do you want coaches to see it?'"

Lately, several Major League Baseball players have come under fire for tweets posted from their high school days that were dug up by users, and it's left the players and their teams scrambling to apologize and figure out a course of action.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader was called out during the All-Star Game for derogatory tweets from 2011-12. He quickly apologized and is required to complete sensitivity training.

That followed with the digging up of similar tweets from Washington Nationals infielder Trea Turner and Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb, who came within one out of throwing a no-hitter July 29 and then had to call reporters back into the clubhouse after the game so he could publicly apologize.

"We find the tweets hurtful and incredibly disappointing and even though he was 18 or 19 years old when posted, it doesn't make them any less tolerable," the Braves said in a statement. "We will work together with Sean towards mending the wounds created in our community."

The string of stories of derogatory tweets from baseball players serves as a painful reminder of what can happen when young athletes have no filter on social media. The same applies to likes, retweets and shares of other posts.

Hephzibah football coach William Harrell said he discusses the issue with his players and tells them that deleting something doesn't mean it's gone forever, evident by tweets from baseball players that were shared by screenshots.

"We explain to our guys that anything that is posted in social media, whether it is public or private, can be used against them in the court of law or public opinion, even if it is deleted," he said.

Harrell and Beale both added that college coaching staffs now have positions dedicated to monitoring the social media accounts of potential recruits. A reminder is occasionally posted by a coach that an offer has been pulled or interest has gone cold on a player as a result.

"I also explain that many colleges have staff devoted to digging up any red flags about prospects, and that many of the alarms go off in social media," Harrell said.

It's another aspect of coaching that's come into play in recent years, and coaches across the area now discuss the issue with their players in an effort to keep them on track toward a future in college.

"We tell them that you can't take it back once it's out there," Beale said. "Coaches reinforce that."

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August 5, 2018
 
 
 

 

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