Athletes are, and should be, held to a higher standard. It is a price to be paid for the opportunity to participate. You, as an athlete, a coach, or a fan, owe the game much, much more than the game will ever owe you. As Coach Lane used to say, “Faith, family, and football is a game we are fortunate enough to be able to play.”
There are few areas where the modern athletes, especially the young, high school athlete, must hold themselves accountable to a higher standard than in the realm of social media. The ability to send our thoughts and ideas into the public realm is greater than it has ever been in the history of mankind. It’s instantaneous. It’s far-reaching. It can be a slippery slope.
Social media is great because it connects us like we have never been connected before and gives us an audience. Social media is bad because it connects us like we have never been connected before and gives us an audience. In short, social media is a double-edged sword. It can been used in a positive manner as easily as it can be used as a negative.
Parents, coaches and administrators need to develop a social media plan and convince players and teammates to abide by the plan. Creating the best tribe possible should be the underlying goal of everything we do as coaches and athletes. Social media is part of being in the tribe. Three things to remember about being a good tribe teammate.
- What is good for the tribe is good for you too.
- The jabs you take at the tribe are as damaging and as senseless as punching your own self.
- Impact your tribe positively with your actions. In Coach Hays words, don’t crap in your own nest.
Social media is permanent. Your post is given a life. Your friends and followers see it. They like it or share it and your post is opened up to all the friends and followers of your friends and followers. The social reach can be extended to layer upon layer upon layer—even if you deleted your original post 30 seconds after posting it. Social media has permanence.
A good guidepost for social media, which is also a good guidepost for general life, is to not say anything to someone on social media or about someone on social media that you would not say if you were standing face to face to them.
But do it while playing nice.
Use your social media spectrum for good. The Mrs. Coach Hays, in her infinite wisdom on such matters dealing with young people, often reminds me of the credo, “Positive in public, negative on your own time.”
Be who you are, but put your best face toward the rest of humanity.
Finally, as the venerable Coach Melvin Cales used to tell his son and my college roommate, Monty, after Sunday visits to our college town where Coach Cales’s mother lived, “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read about in the paper.”
A great lesson to guide your social footprint.
And a great life lesson to boot.
Social wise, my friends.