Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#AthletesAndSocialNetworkSites

By: Tuesday and Friday
The first time I heard about a situation involving a HS athlete receiving sanctions from inappropriate postings on a social network site was about 3 years ago. A varsity basketball player posted some disparaging comments about his coach on Facebook. The posting was revealed to the varsity coaching staff and that player’s playing time was curtailed for the next few games. I was very shocked to learn a player would post something questionable like that on an open forum for other people to see. I couldn’t understand how one could think this information wouldn’t get back to people who directed his basketball team.

Fast forward to this season. After a great D-I boys game played in the Queen City by 2 of the top teams in the state opposing players took to twitter to talk trash to each other. They swore back and forth at each other. After trying to compete on the basketball court for 32 minutes they were now spending their time competing on twitter. However, this competition involved trash talk, swearing and very unsportsmanlike conduct. I believe the word “flagrant” could be used.

A division 1 boys game was held towards the end of the season. A player on one of the teams took to twitter and tweeted a very flagrant post that was malicious to the other team. That player received an immediate suspension from the team. A Trinity player receives a 5 day suspension for using the social devices at hand inappropriately and misses out on the playoffs and weakens his team for the playoffs. Now, we have the situation where a player has been stripped of his POY award and was not allowed to compete in a NH all-star game and won’t be allowed to compete in the VT/NH all-star game.

There has definitely been a healthy debate over the last few days as to whether the punishment in the D2 boy’s Twitter-Fiasco fit the crime. I believe when the NHBCO handed down their sanctions in this instance they were making a firm stand on what has happened on social networking sites with HS athletes in the last season and to prevent the continual abuse by HS athletes of posting ill-advised comments on social networking sites. Someone has to be the adult here. This was NHBCO’s chance to be the adult. They were in a position to do nothing, do a partial sanction or a full sanction. They decided to do a full sanction to send a swift and strong message to HS athletes in NH to:

“Knock it off.”

If they did a partial sanction then future ill-advised decisions by HS athletes or in this instance basketball players would be open to interpretation for what kind of sanctions would fit what kind of inappropriate postings on social network sites. With the NHBCO decision there is no wiggle room or interpretation. If you recklessly post disparaging words on social sites you will be sanctioned. I applaud the NHBCO for taking a firm stance on this situation. The sooner HS athletes realize you just can’t do inappropriate things like this the better off we’ll all be as a society.

There has been a general erosion of respect, sportsmanship and mature behavior over the 21st century in HS sports. The social network sites have added fuel to this already increasing lack of sportsmanship wild fire. It’s just not enough to beat your opponent, but one must get on Facebook and Twitter to send verbal needles into the losing team. Is this the way we want our athletes to be?

I applaud the Pembroke administration in this situation. They did what was right and had Pat Welch go down to Portsmouth to issue apologies to the Portsmouth AD, principal and coach. Last year the Pembroke administration did the exact same adjudication with a student who sent an inappropriate posting to a team Pembroke was going to play in a basketball playoff game at UNH. That non-basketball playing student had to go to the school he made the inappropriate social posting and apologize in person to school administration officials. Kudos and loud applause to the Pembroke administration for doing what’s right.

There is no doubt that sooner as opposed to later when HS athletes in NH sign their athletic contacts to be on a team, along with the use of alcohol and drugs, that inappropriate communication on social network sites will also be a provision on their athletic contracts. I do feel there is a general “We’ve had it with these social network inappropriate postings” by fans, parents, coaches and administrators. It’s now time for school administrators to make athletes aware BEFORE a season starts what they could face with sanctions and suspensions if they recklessly and immaturely post ill-advised communication on social network sites.

So, from here on in HS athletes, your inappropriate social site postings are on the radar. The sanctions by the NHBCO for the D2 Boy’s situation have set a landmark precedent for this. There will be no more excuses or the “he or she is just a kid” argument when sanctions are handed down by school administrators of HS athletic governing bodies.

There is a saying on the court of “don’t put it in the referee’s whistle.” For example, in the VCU – SF Austin NCAA tournament game VCU was up by 4 points. A SF Austin player attempted a 3 pointer at the regulation buzzer and was inexplicably fouled by a VCU player. The 3 pointer went in and the foul shot made and then VCU lost in OT. That VCU player put the pivotal play of the game “into the ref’s whistle.” The player and VCU lost big time.

So, HS athletes don’t put your life, athletic career and your teams into the hands of governing bodies. Believe me this is not a case of Big Brother watching you. This is a case of you maturing and being responsible as STUDENT-athletes. Don’t post inappropriate and unsportsmanlike communication on social networking sites. If you do it becomes someone else’s right to act judiciously on you. Either post good communication or don’t communicate at all on social network sites.

All HS athletes are now on the social networking radars.

#StopIllAdvisedSocialSiteCommunicating

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Jeremy for your thoughts on this. I am troubled by the way adults in this matter have acted form the quotes of the coach, to those who feel that high school athletes tweeting like pros is comparable, to adults who want to play the "they started it" game. The NHBCA did the right thing. This is an honor, not an entitlement this player was due. Honors are bestowed upon those who have earned it. Honors are also taken away due to lack of judgment, thought, or conscious.

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