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How has social media impacted the world of athletics?

Whether you see it on TV or YouTube, read about it on Twitter or Facebook, it has become very common for professional and college student athletes to misuse social media networks, and face the consequences.

With the advancements in social media networks, people have used networks like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to upload and share photos, videos, and their thoughts.  However, what professional and college student athletes say on social media networks counts. Unfortunately, many professional and student athletes have faced serious consequences when posting and uploading inappropriate pictures, videos, and messages.

For example, just in the past couple of years there have been many cases where professional and college athletes have misused social media networks, and have faced serious consequences in doing so.  Back in November 2013 New York Knicks player J.R. Smith was fined $25,000 for his inappropriate tweets towards Detroit Pistons player, Brandon Jennings.  Unfortunately this misuse of social media extends into the world of college athletics as well.  For example, there have been many times where college athletes have tweeted or instagramed something inappropriate and unacceptable. 

In the fall of 2012 a Boston College women’s soccer player, Stephanie McCaffrey, tweeted about her upcoming game against Penn State, and tweeted inappropriate remarks about the then Sandusky controversy.  For example, McCaffery tweeted “I wonder if well get into the visitors locker room at Penn state…”  as well as other extremely inappropriate tweets.

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Image is a screengrab from USA Today

However, Stephanie McCaffrey is not the only college athlete who has used poor judgment when posting to social media networks.  While searching for example of this, I came across Complex Tech that displays a brief article and multiple screengrab-photographs of college athletes who have tweeted extremely inappropriate and offensive things.

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Image is a screengrab from Complex Tech

In my opinion social media networks have had a huge impact, and arguably, has changed the world of athletics.  Professional athletes, along with college athletes, are put under a microscope when it comes to social media networks.  Each and every one of them has to be extremely careful about what they post, upload, tweet, or type.  Why are professional and college student athletes watched so carefully on various social media networks? It is because what they choose to upload or say on social networks counts. Professional athletes, not only represent themselves, but they also represent a company and huge organization on the team that they play for.  Similarly, college student athletes represent the college or university they he or she is playing for.

When athletes use  any type of social media network they are collaborating both offline and online communities that share their love of the team, sport, or player in common.  More specifically, fans, followers, alumni, and current students of professional and college athletes show their support and love for the team and players by following them on social media. In her article, The good and the bad of Twitter and college athletes, writer Nicole Auerbach explains how college athletes have misused Twitter, and what they have learned from it.

As a student athlete at Bucknell, we constantly have team meetings at the beginning of each season to discuss how we need to be extremely careful about how we not only represent ourselves and our team, but also how you represent the university.  When you are a college athlete, and when you put on your jersey, you not only represent your team and yourself, but most importantly you represent the name of the college or university.  What one professional or college athlete posts on social media affects all professional and college athletes. When using any type of social media once you click the “send” or “post” button on a screen, it is out there for the world to see.

Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Ed Yourdon

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