Just about everyone these days, especially the younger generation, is constantly on at least one, if not multiple, social media sites. But It’s not only kids either – many coaches, teachers, and administrators have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, simply telling a young person to avoid being on these sites all together is not very realistic. However, as we discussed in our article Social Media & Athletes Not Always a Perfect Match, when used the wrong way, sites like Twitter and Facebook can be devastating to a young athlete’s chances of getting recruited to play at the college level or beyond. The thought of watching over every word or picture that is posted to their pages probably does not cross most 14-18 year olds’ minds, but one inappropriate post or picture seen by a college coach can lead them to think you are a behavioral risk they don’t want to chance a scholarship on. As an of example of the weight college programs place on their potential recruits’ actions on social media, the link and picture below are from Vanderbilt Baseball’s Prospect Questionnaire.
Notice that the coaches ask for links to four different sites from the player. No one even uses MySpace anymore and they still want to know if you have one. Regardless of what a young athlete believes, college coaches aren’t asking for links to your social sites to find out what you ate for dinner or what video game you’re playing. Not that they want to stalk you, but they want to check to make sure there’s no red flags. Everyday I see dozens of tweets from athletes that make me shake my head because I know if a college coach were to read them, they would definitely think twice about recruiting those individuals. Coaches don’t expect kids to be perfect, but at the same time they want to know if they recruit a player that they will be responsible once they get to school, especially in sports with limited scholarships where precious dollars can’t be used on someone constantly suspended or failing out. Along the same lines, if you open the questionnaire you will see that the personal info like the social sites, and the academic info sections come before the parts looking for baseball stats. Many young players have the attitude that only what they do on the field matters, but in the college game if you can’t ever make it on the field due to conduct or grades, your talent doesn’t matter.
No one is perfect, especially teenagers. However, if you are a young player and you want to get recruited to play at the next level, you need to be aware of how you present yourself in the online world. Coaches will look at your social sites whether you give them the links or not. Colleges make investments in players they sign to scholarships, and they want to make sure they are putting their money in the right place. Sites like Twitter and Facebook can be very positive as long as you use them the right way, so it’s not necessary to avoid them all together. Remember, whatever you post is voluntary, you are offering it up on your own to the public, so why broadcast things that can hurt you? A good rule of thumb is to just stop and think twice before you post – if you do this you can avoid many potential mistakes.