Do you have an athlete in your home? If you do, this article is definitely for you. My husband and I raised two athletes. Our sons have been playing baseball since they were four years old. My youngest has actually tackled all three sports, baseball, basketball, and football. And up until my oldest graduated this year, we did not know what lazy beach summer vacations looked like. If it didn’t involve dirt, a bunch of stinky boys, temps hotter than the face of the sun, folding chairs, and a lot of baseballs, we weren’t doing it. I would not trade those days for anything.
While my kids were good at their sports, they were not great. Meaning they were off the scholarship to college and beyond level. However, there are A LOT of kids that are. And they put in massive amounts of sweat equity to secure those scholarships. I have witnessed so many athletes (girls and guys) lose their place on their high school teams and their potential for college scholarships due to misuse of their social media. I will share a few ways to mitigate this and how to use their social media to get noticed in the RIGHT way when looking for scholarships.
Athletes need to remember they are in a position to represent themselves and the school. This brings a lot of pressure and some scrutiny. Some ways to ensure they do not attract the wrong type of attention to themselves are:
(1) Keep it clean. No foul language. No inappropriate picture sending. Basically, no junk.
(2) Keep it kind. Always support your teammates. And never…and I mean NEVER…use their platform to make fun of or bash other teams.
(3) Remember that the coaches and recruiters that they want to notice them WILL be looking at their social media. So if it is something your mom, dad, or grandma would be embarrassed that you posted, chances are a recruiter will not like it either.
(4) Ask your athlete to go back through their social media all the way to middle school. And remove anything that does not represent them how they want to be represented.
Athletes can also use social media to gain exposure to recruiters. Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have allowed teen athletes to showcase their skills and achievements. They can post highlights, training videos, and game footage, allowing college coaches and recruiters to discover them. This increased exposure has made it easier for athletes to get noticed and considered for scholarships.
Social media makes personal branding easy. It allows teen athletes to create and maintain their brand. They can showcase their personality, values, and work ethic, making them more appealing to college coaches.
They can communicate directly with college coaches and recruiters. Many colleges and universities use social media to announce scholarship offers and commitments from athletes. This information is readily available to the public, allowing athletes to celebrate their achievements and gain recognition from their peers, family, and friends.
Bottom line: There is great opportunity for our athletes to increase viability and help reach their scholarship goals. But they must remember that college coaches and recruiters often monitor athletes’ social media accounts to gain a sense of their character and decision-making. Inappropriate or offensive posts can jeopardize scholarship opportunities, so athletes must be mindful of their online presence.
Kristi Bush serves as a national education consultant and social media safety advocate. She is a licensed social worker with greater than 15 years of clinical practice and health care experience. She attended Troy and Auburn University where she studied social work and counseling. Kristi travels nationally and has spoken with thousands of children, parents, professionals and organizations about the benefits and threats associated with social media. You may reach Kristi through her website at www.knbcommunications.com.