Think before you post: dangers of social media for athletes

Think before you post: dangers of social media for athletes

(WTVM) - Social media is an excellent tool for networking and keeping anyone connected to everyone.

It can be great for local high school athletes trying to make a name for themselves. Coaches like Columbus State basketball coach Robert Moore and Spencer High head football coach Pierre Coffey use it for their program and their players.

On the same token, social media can be a detriment to an athlete's future, especially if they post the wrong thing.

"When we first start recruiting a guy, we'll look at his Facebook page, we'll look at his Instagram, make sure it's clean," Moore said. "If we see some negative things in there with drugs, alcohol, any kind of gang activity, we cut that guy off the list right away."

"I've seen kids lose scholarships because of that," Coffey said.

One post can alter your entire career, something Auburn Associate Athletic Director Cassie Arnold is trying to teach student-athletes.

"Coaches are recognizing that they can tell a lot," Arner said, "that they're able to discern personalities and what kind of student athlete that they would be on this team and how they would be with their teammates through social media and that's extremely important for people to understand."

Athletes are at risk regardless of the level. Cleveland Browns running back and Columbus-native Isaiah Crowell found himself in hot water recently after a graphic post depicting a person killing a police officer.

He later apologized and took down the picture, but fans and even the Browns organization still spoke out against it. It's just one example of how one post can change everything.

"Sometimes we get frustrated and we get aggravated about what's going on in the world, but you don't have any control over that," Moore said. "You're not in that situation so watch what you say. Don't comment at all is what I say."

"Know that just because you put it out there and delete it, that doesn't mean that it's gone," Coffey said. "People can easily screenshot what you put out there or once you delete it, it's somewhere up there in the clouds so I'm sure it something that can be retrieved."

Even if your college career is far away, what you post now can have an impact years down the road.

"Whatever you post whether you're 13, 14, 15 years old, all of that stays," Arner said. Nothing's deleted from the internet. Everything could always be a part of your public image."

So what can you do to keep that public image clean?

"Just watch what you say," Moore said. "Don't put yourself in a bad position where you've got a chance of being suspended for a game or even losing a scholarship because it's not worth it."

"We try not to say 'don't do this.' We try to say 'you have the ability to build a public persona so think about how you want to be represented and think about how you want people to see you.'"

"Social media's great when you use it right and it can change your life, but it can change your life both ways," Coffey said.

In short, be mindful of what you post because what happens on social media can ruin your future on the field.

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