Everything in life I believe happens for a reason. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology – and the nuances of social media intrigued me very early. As my last article intimated, I got into Twitter very deep – studied it, used it extensively; understood the animal that it was – a beast not a little birdie. That being said, social media carries power.
Social Media and the Pursuit of an Athletic Scholarship
The Power is in Everyone’s Hands
The only barrier to entry is having a device to connect. With Smartphones being the norm and typically a second or third device at a person’s disposal, getting on a social media account is easy. And yes, as long as you can create an account you’re in. All social media accounts have age restrictions…but is someone checking your ID when you create your account? Nope. Do people lie about their age. Yep. And there we have our first discussion point – Kids too young to have an account can do so because there’s no real checks and balances.
Too Young for Social Media
Reality: Children mature differently. An 11-yr old may post more responsibly than a 21-yr old . Should we disallow the 11-yr old “good poster” but give freedom to post bad messages to the 21-yr old? That is a conversation for another day. The reality is that accounts are being created and managed by people who are perhaps too young or too immature to understand the impact of their messages. Younger kids post a ton of Re-tweeting which
NEWSFLASH: Re-tweeting is the equivalent of saying it yourself
I've seen it all from twerking; to sexually explicit content; obscenity laden messages; etc. And yes, I’ve seen 11 and 12 year olds post those things. My heart aches because before they’ve thought about their future, they’ve already placed themselves on the wrong track.
Athletic Scholarship Becomes Real Around 15-16 Yrs Old
For most youth who have a shot at a scholarship, the pursuit becomes more serious around 15 years old. It is the time when schools begin to make a play for the athlete and the athlete starts to seriously consider that path. What most parents and youth athletes don’t realize:
Twitter is one of the most widely used forms of social media for college coaches
This means they’re looking at your Twitter account. Uh oh…yes that means that the Twitter the youth started 4 years prior with no real thought process or strategy – yep is being judged. College coaches are trying to figure out what kind of person they may want to give a Quarter of a Million Dollars. Is it that serious? YES. When you’re a scholarship athlete you become
A brand ambassador for the school
A brand ambassador for the sponsors (i.e. Under Armour)
A role model to young athletes everywhere who identify with your story
One of the few that “made it” (according to NCAA.org, only 2% of all high school athletes receive some form of athletic scholarship)
What Does All This Mean?
Your Twitter account and all of your social media accounts should reflect the spirit of elite athleticism – the spirit of the next level. There’s no other way around it. Using expletives may be normal for your conversation – but that’s not going to help you go to the next level. And to be honest if you’ve got a chance to be in the 2% who are lucky to receive a scholarship, is twerking, cursing, or being outright vile or rude worth it? Is being in the 98% who don’t receive a scholarship more important?
Parents – Do Your Young Athlete a Favor
Manage their accounts if your child is not old enough to have one. Monitor their accounts if they’re old enough. Getting to the next level does not happen by chance – it is a set of purposeful actions that let schools know just how serious the young athlete is about the next steps.
Yes there’s tons more for me to write on this topic – main takeaway: eliminate the garbage from your social media accounts that may stand in the way of being in that 2%.