According to Forbes, the amount of adults in the United States that use social media has risen 800% in just eight short years from 2005-2013. Forbes also states that over 50% of Fortune 500 companies are using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
As time continues to progress, it seems that society is even more anxious to use social networking. In fact, you are considered the minority in today’s world if you do not use any forms of social media. Perhaps one of the greatest features about social media is the ability to reach hundreds, if not thousands of people in seconds just by a simple “click.” With this in mind, it is important to remember that once you put something on the internet, it is there forever, and this seems to be a problem that too many people do not realize until it is too late.
According to the Pew Research Internet Project, an overwhelming 89% of people ages 18-29 are on some form of social media. That would suggest that a very high percent of students in college are voicing their opinion on some sort of social media platform. Now for the most part, a lot of what college kids post will go unseen. Even for myself, nobody really cares what a random 21-year-old kid has to say about whatever pops into his head. With that being said, college students who also happen to be Division 1 athletes tend to have a brighter spotlight on everything they do, and this includes their social media spotlight.
College sports fans can tend to be some of the most passionate people in the entire country. With this great fandom comes obsession over their favorite players. Not only are these student-athletes in the eyes of their fanbases, they are in the spotlight of the entire country! Freshman basketball player Jahlil Okafor of Duke University already has just short of forty thousand Twitter followers! With athletes like Okafor constantly in the spotlight, things can usually go one of two ways. One being the positive road, one in which the athletes interacts with his fans and followers, and one who uses their voice as a way to make a positive change.
However, it does not always end up so well for these young student athletes. For example, late in 2012, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was NOT happy about putting the student in STUDENT-athlete. So he decided to let everybody in the world know of his displeasure. He proceeded to tweet, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play football, we ain’t come to play school, classes are pointless!”
After Jones sent this tweet, it was almost immediately taken down, and was internally disciplined by the team. Now why this may come off as something silly and hilarious to the average fan reading the tweet, it is a significant detriment to the school and football program. Ohio State was forced to issue a statement on the tweet, and it gave everybody in the college football community a reason to bash the already highly scrutinized program. This is not the only instance of student athletes incorrectly using social media platforms to voice their opinions.
Following a Heisman trophy season, Johnny “Football” Manziel was not only one of the most prolific college athletes, he was one of the most well known athletes on the entire planet. Always being in the public eye, Manziel was highly criticized during his college years, for his on field play in addition to his party lifestyle. In the summer following his Heisman trophy, Manziel tweeted, “Bull**** like tonight is the reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever that may be.”
Like Cardale Jones’, Manziel’s tweet was taken down almost immediately, with the school having to then issue a statement. What Jones, Manziel, and so many other athletes have proven, is that prolific student athletes need to be educated on how to properly use social media.
While student athletes may be able to positively interact with fans, it is clear that way too many do not know how to properly voice their opinions.
Positive student-athlete tweet!!!
Because of this, the athletes shine a negative light on their respective universities and programs. Not only are these athletes hurting their programs by doing this, they are also hurting themselves, which is perhaps the most important. According to a report on DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.COM, the problem may go even further than just college athletes. In the report, AAU basketball coach Scott Fitch revealed that one of his players took himself out of the running for a scholarship because of the contents on his Twitter page. Also in the article was a tweet posted by Marymount basketball coach Brandon Chambers. The tweet read, “Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship. Now while his player surely did not intend to technically lose himself $140k, he should have surely been more aware of the spotlight he was under. Which raises the question, “why wasn’t he more aware?” Not only for him, Jones, and Manziel, but all young athletes in the spotlight.
Perhaps social media platforms should be banned altogether. Or perhaps these young athletes should just be properly educated. University of Illinois linebacker Ralph Cooper says that he has never seen improper social media usage amongst any of his teammates. “We have people come in about two times a year to stress the importance of what we post and to not post anything negative. Once you become a Division 1 athlete, you’re more in the public eye than you would be if you were a regular student.” Perhaps more schools should be taking after Illinois, as the negative social media outbursts amongst college athletes have become far too common nowadays.