Living in the digital age has its benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, you have instant access to information (like KPB!). On the other, almost everything that happens is instantly available to the public online. Think about it. Everything is online. It’s easy for college coaches to find out about a recruit with a few clicks of the mouse, and believe us, they are checking. Coaches want athletes who can play and have good character on and off the field. When they Google your name, what will they find?
Because personal information is so readily available, young athletes need to be extremely careful about the cyber footprint they leave behind. Unlike when your parents were growing up, that post-game tirade is not forgotten later in the week. Instead, it is up on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook and can’t be erased. We see examples of athletes making regrettable remarks or posting embarrassing pictures online almost every day. We also see coaches posting about dropping recruits because of what they find on the player’s social media.
You may think we are overreacting. After all, everyone uses social media nowadays without worrying about it, right? But you are not everyone. You are working hard to reach a big goal, and we want to keep you from making mistakes that may cost you an opportunity to play at the next level. We want you to think about the way that you want to be portrayed online. How does your social media make you look to someone who doesn’t know you well? Don’t be the next athlete to make a social media blunder. A big online blunder might make the coach at your number one school avoid you because you look like you can’t be trusted or that you aren’t smart enough to be successful in his program.
Follow the tips below to ensure your cyber footprint doesn’t misrepresent who you are to a coach. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to slip up. Follow these rules and don’t let your social media habits stop you from playing baseball!
1. Pick a username that you can mention anywhere.
Make sure you are selecting a username or handle that represents you, your family, and your school well. Sure, it may be funny to have something clever and kind of crude, but do you want a college coach to think of you as a ballplayer or as “@SeeMoreButts22.” Or how about when your diving catch in the College World Series lands you on Sports Center’s Top 10 and they put your handle/username up on the screen. Does it represent you in a positive light? Would your family be proud or embarrassed?
2. Think (hard) before you post anything anywhere.
- Avoid posting controversial content (pictures, quotes, profanity, bigotry, etc), not even by sharing someone else’s post. Retweets, shares, and likes are an endorsement and still put your character on the line.
- This may seem repetitive, but it deserves it’s own bullet. Be careful of the language you use. Avoid profanity and hate speech.
- Be aware of topics that can get you in trouble (race, politics, sexuality, drugs, etc.). Even if you are sharing other people’s posts or comments, this is a good way to get you in trouble.
- After a tough game, avoid going right on social media and talking about what happened. Instead, take some time to get your emotions in check so you can avoid letting your emotions or competitive spirit get the best of you. Instead, call a friend or family member you trust if you need to vent.
- Be aware of the content your friends post about you or on your profile. Again, you may have nothing to do with it, but if it’s under your name and a coach attaches the behavior/language to you, it may be tough to overcome that initial judgment. You may not even get the chance to change his mind.
- Even if a social media site says that your content isn’t permanent (they might say it disappears after a few seconds), they can never guarantee that because people can take screen shots of anything and share those screen shots with others. This is important – anything you post online is potentially permanent.
3. Check and recheck your privacy settings and search results.
- Make sure your privacy settings are set so that you can control who is viewing your content. Social media sites often change these settings, so make sure you stay on top of the changes (check your settings once a month or so) and know who is able to view your profile/information.
- Do a monthly Google/Bing/Yahoo search of your name to find out what comes up. This is a good way to check what a coach may be able to find out about you. Fix any problems immediately by deleting the posts or pictures or asking others to delete things, if necessary. If you can’t delete the content, be prepared to explain yourself.
- Pay attention to who you are following and who is following you. Again, would you be embarrassed if Sports Center put up a list of who you are following?
Be smart about social media. Don’t let any misleading content keep you from your goals. Ask yourself 2 questions before you post: Would I be okay with this going up on Sports Center with my name attached to it? Would I want my parents/boss/coach to see this? If not, don’t post it. Period.