Warning! Recruiters Browse Social Network Sites

Social networks are the craze amongst our youth. Facebook, myspace, SportsGist.com, MyStack.com and Badjocks.com are examples of social network sites where our children may be listed or at least browse.

A recent study by Frank Butts, University of West Georgia takes a look at college athletes and monitoring of the social networks by universities and colleges. The article states 'NCAA athletes have come under intense scrutiny from college officials in recent months. The current level of monitoring by athletic departments ranges from mere advisories as to what athletes should post, to a complete ban on the use of any social networks'.

'The NCAA has not formally taken a stand on the social network issue rather leaving the monitoring to universities and colleges. Universities are concerned about the negative images portrayed on social networks, thus impacting recruiting, team morale and the universities own image. Parents should be concerned about the excessive information posted by their kids. Bookies may pose as a friend and solicit illegal contact and take the information and use it to their own advantage in gambling and point-shaving opportunities. If this connection is made, the athlete's eligibility may be at stake and the scholarships as well,' states Mr. Butts. Students have been suspended, ticketed, and dismissed for posted information on social networks.

The article states that, Cornell University IT Director, Tracy Mitrano say, Google's online cache, may be retained even after deletion. Mitrano says a cache allows material to be viewed through a search engine even when you think the material is deleted. A high potential graduate was refused employment when the employer found an inappropriate remark made by the applicant in an online cache.

The findings of this study suggest that NCAA II athletes need further education about or at least the implications of the image issue associated with public social networks. These schools have less staff to work with the athletes on image issues. The greater perception of a positive image projected on the social networks reported by NCAA III athletes is perplexing to the researchers and needs to be looked into further. With the relative visibility of NCAA Division I athletes, it is to be expected that these athletes' social network accounts would project a positive image, and they did, according to the athletes and the study. The study reports there is a growing trend of high school athletics-related abuse of social networks where policies are merited.

Parents need to assure their younger athletes are aware that recruiters browse at social network sites to learn about their athletic abilities and their character. Rebellious images, underage partying and free expression may cause the recruiter to think twice about scholarship offers.

Thank you to The Sport Journal, a quarterly referred sports journal by the United States Sports Academy for this very interesting article. View the entire article by clicking here.
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