Banning Social Media for Collegiate Athletes

First and foremost, this is my first fanpost. I am no longer an fanpost virgin, so first and foremost, congratulations to me. Secondly, if you guys tear this to shreds, I'll quit posting and you'll miss me. 

Alot of you old people may be asking "But CornNole...what IS social media? And how does it apply to FSU football?" Well friend, back when we were kicking names and taking ass, it was non-existant. However, over the past 10 years or so, it has revolutionized communication. All you need is an email address and a phone...and therein lies the problem.

I'll explain more after the jump...(I've always wanted to say that). 

This fanpost was inspired by a discussion with one of my favorite people to interact with, poster "Spear72". Spear and I often cross paths on multiple sites, and I thought our discussion warranted broader input. This is where you guys come in.  

To give some background on how this came about, a certain member of the football team made a comment on twitter that could be viewed as inappropriate to certain individuals. Personally, I did not find it in bad taste, but I believe I was in the minority. Anyways, the group arrived at 2 different conclusions/solutions, which I will outline below.

PROBLEM: Possibility of FSU Athletes using social media in a manner inconsistent with an established code of conduct set forth by the Athletic Department. 

Obviously this is self-explanatory. Examples ranging from simple lingo being used in "tweets" to incriminating photographs via facebook and anything in between that can potentially bring harm upon any number of parties associated with the university. How do we keep this from happening?

SOLUTION: Ban athletes from using social media. 

Simple, right? Problem solved...according to what I perceive to be a good number of fans (I could be wrong...maybe I'll get squirrely and attach a poll to this sucker). As the Sunshine Scooter would say, "Not so Fast, my friend!".

We've gotten a lot of bad news the past week or 10 days with Nigel Carr's arrest, Fortson's dismissal, Stanley's absence, and you could throw in DJJ's failure to qualify and possibly Jacobs, too. However, this helps illustrate the underlying reason for this entire conundrum, and raises a very important question. To what extent can these young athletes be trusted? In the eyes of some, giving every one of these athletes a microphone and a stage to a very large fanbase (essentially this is what twitter/facebook is doing, no?) is a potentially volatile situation. 

Given the actions of collegiate athletes over the last couple of years, I wholeheartedly agree with this viewpoint. However, I do not agree with the notion to ban social media. And here's why...

First of all, it's virtually unenforceable, for 2 main reasons. First, all you need to sign up is an email address. I've plugged enough false information into websites I don't want to endlessly spam my inbox (this is an excellent strategy with REALTORS, for what it's worth. Take note, young men) to know how easily obtainable an email address is. Secondly, social media sites are accessible from virtually every single cell phone nowadays. I suppose if you can find a way to eliminate these 2 factors, then you've got me. You cannot ban cell phones, nor track a random email address. 

However, in an idea in which I'm extremely jealous of, there are sites that will monitor the athlete's accounts for a nominal fee. Sites like supposedly alert the appropriate individuals within the athletic department whenever a "troublesome" post appears on one of their Twitter/Facebook/Myspace pages. This allows the situation to be handled internally, before it becomes a larger issue for both parties. I have no idea how expensive this particular service is, and with the economy in its current state, I wouldn't be surprised if Universities looked for a less expensive internal solution similar to this service. Which leads me to my next point...

Resources. What would you guys rather the AD be spending their money on? A new, super awesome indoor practice facility or services that monitor websites where guys may or may not be doing something stupid. What would you guys rather the coaching staff be spending time on? Coaching our players and recruiting new ones, or combing over comments deciding what is inflammatory and what's not? Time and Money are not limitless.

Also, why would a young athlete want to spend 4 years in an environment that doesn't allow social media? I think sometimes we forget that these kids sacrifice so much for our amusement (and yes...that's essentially what college sports are) that they probably cling to whatever semblance of a normal collegiate experience they have left. How many recruits would come to FSU if they weren't allowed to hit up their ladyfriends on the facebook? What if our athletes are like Ricobert1? Completely turned on by numbers and statistics and terrified of the opposite sex? Who are we to deny them at an opportunity for everlasting love and happiness. Things to think about. Not to mention the fact that the competition would have a field day with this thing. I can see Urban Meyer now..."Where else you considering? Florida State? Ha! Have fun never using twitter or facebook for 4 years. Here at UF, we don't care what you say or'll play regardless" (obviously this in an elaboration...kinda). Other schools would have a field day.

So if you cannot ban these types of accounts for the reasons named above, what is the best solution? 

Here's where the discussion hits home, especially for parents (not that I am one, but it's an obvious correlation). In my opinion, these coaches have to treat their time with these athletes like parents from birth to 18. You monitor closely their actions until you develop a trust in them that they will not embarrass the university. You keep a stern eye on the ones that need it, but you do not police them. You set an example, serve as a guide, and educate them about the ramifications of their decisions. You trust them (eventually). If they mess up, they get heavily punished (See Jarmon). You build character.

Facebook and Twitter are here to stay. Athletic departments are now getting smarter and incorporating terms of use into their code of conduct, but the COACHES need to be the ones to teach these young men how to properly represent themselves, as well as their respective universities. 

After all, how can we expect these guys to display that championship winning character if they're being policed?

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