There is no doubt that student-athletes are getting into trouble on social media. Happens every day. Not just on social media, but it happens all over the internet. The internet has created immediate access to a lot of things these days that we never had as “kids.” You can sit at home and take a tour of the titanic! You can sit at your house and surf a virtual wave. You can sit at your house and gamblenow days!
A few years ago I surveyed 222 high school(91% of correspondents) and college (9%) coaches nationwide about the use of Social Media in their own lives, in their schools, and in their sports programs.
One question that I asked on this survey was: Has your program ever disciplined a student-athlete because of what they posted on Social Media?
43% of coaches nationwide reported that YES, they have disciplined student-athletes under their direction for what they observed on various Social Media platforms. I broke down all of their typed responses in to categories, to see what the most common sorts of behaviors have been getting student-athletes in trouble online. What is it that kids are doing on Social Media to deserve punishment.
The only thing that surprised me about the results of my research was that alcohol and drugs did not rank higher. Obviously, the kids still have some sort of filter. I figured that the “Drugs/Alcohol” category would have finished above the “Talking Trash” category, but I was wrong.
I broke down the “General Inappropriate Content” down in to three subcategories. This is a very vague category. About a dozen coaches just wrote “Inappropriate content.” This could have been drugs/alcohol, or nudity, or talking trash. Too hard to know. Obviously, not a totally scientific survey, but I still think that this survey gives us some insight, and should give us some ideas of how to train and teach our kids about their digital citizenship. The three subcategories you will see are: general (these are coaches who just wrote “Inappropriate Content,” Language and Lying.
I have selected some quotes and stories for each of these categories. I have not changed the words at all. These are directly from the coaches who completed the survey.
Top 5 Issues Getting Student-Athletes In Trouble On Social Media
1. General Inappropriate Content: 29%
A. General – 46%
“Inappropriate posts while on a school activity.”
Student posted a fight between teammates on Instagram.
“Hoping a fence to ditch school.”
“We had a kid sit out a quarter because of an email he sent to the commissioner of our activities association.”
B. Language – 36%
“Language directed towards others and not representing himself or the football program in a positive light”
“Profanity and promoting parties with drugs and alcohol”
C. Lying – 18%
“Two way starter missed a game because he was “sick” (told me at noon that day). He posted multiple times (including pictures) on Facebook that night while the game was going on. He was actually at a Taylor Swift concert with his girlfriend (our assistant’s daughter). The coach bought the tickets…”
“Student was at a party after missing a team function.”
2. Talking Trash: 24%
“Players were given extra conditioning for instigating other teams players on twitter.”
“It was for talking trash to opponents via twitter.”
“Talking about another student from a rival school who had transferred from our school”
“Disrespectful comments towards a rival school including foul language that poorly reflected upon our program and school”
“Talking bad about another team mate, tweeting foul language”
“Language Specific Verbal antagonizing a less talent player “Bullying”
“Posting on the other school’s team facebook page that “They suck”
“Offensive language, trash talk with other teams”
“Smack talking an opponent and another was making fun of one of our assistant trainers”
3. Alcohol/Drugs: 19%
“Student was referenced in a post by another student as having brought alcohol to a party. Team has a strict no substance policy. Student was removed from Leadership Council Position and placed on probation.”
“Alcohol and marijuana use.”
“The post showed the student engaged in consumption of alchohol”
“Posted picture of themselves with alcohol”
4. Coaching Complaints: 16%
“Student-athlete (younger brother of a Junior player to a Coach’s son) posted on Facebook that his “…family pretty much hates your dad because he’s screwing over my brother at QB.” That student-athlete was released from our program. He still participated in wrestling at our High School and one time entertained coming back to FB after a meeting with me but could not follow of expectations.”
“He made up an account as the head coach, he was cut”
“We had an athlete posting negative remarks on twitter about a coach, that player was removed from that sports team until the next season (not football).”
“Public negativity directed at HFC after a tough loss on the road to a state rival last year.”