Social media can be a boost for high school athletic programs or it can be a hindrance.
High school athletic officials can communicate information about the program and build excitement. Or the program can be torn by comments and images.
Coaches and administrators urge students to think before posting.
Paul Dinkenor, Leesville Road boys and girls soccer coach: Dinkenor doesn’t use social media – the team texts a great deal – and he cautions his players about their use of social media.
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“We talk about whatever they post is a reflection of their character. You don’t want to put something out there in the heat of the moment. Hopefully, you leave that behind in the sixth or seventh grade.”
Emanuel Jackson, Sanderson High state 4A hurdles champion: Jackson said he uses Twitter every day and keeps up with friends and current events on social media.
“I always think about what I post because my family follows me.”
Chris Danehower, Cleveland, girls basketball coach: Danehower uses Twitter and social media sites and he manages the program’s account to make sure the information is accurate.
“I watch my players’ twitter accounts and take action if I deem it is a safety issue or if negative information is being sent out. I talk with my girls about social media, but I don’t make a big deal with it except to caution them about what they say to and about others.”
Jeffrey Dufour, Smithfield-Selma athletic director: Dufour does not use social media sites other than the athletics media site.
“We encourage athletes to be wary of the pitfalls of using social media, but also respect the good things that are a by-product of social interaction.”
Toni Dupree, East Wake, girls basketball coach: Dupree uses social media to communicate with players and said she probably posts about four times per day.
“I check my players’ accounts periodically. I tell them to be careful about what they post on social media because colleges and employers look at them. Social media can really mess up your image if it is not used right. Even though you delete posts, it is still out there in cyberspace. I also tell them true stories of players not getting recruited because of things they posted on social media.”
Darius Robinson, Southern Durham, athletics director and head football coach: Robinson uses social media accounts to communicate with his players and he watches the players’ accounts as well.
“We are constantly reminding the student athletes to be professional and respectable at all times on their social media accounts.”
Ed Hall, Wakefield, baseball coach: Hall does not use social media at all. But he expects his players to use it appropriately.
“I have my athletes sign an ‘agreement of standards’ which includes a section on the use of social media.”
Eddie Gray, Garner boys basketball coach: Gray does not use social media although he occasionally looks at posts.
“Sometimes I will read some of the opinions on social media accounts ... when I want a good laugh. It is amazing how many coaching experts there are on the World Wide Web. 99.9% of the ‘experts’ do not use their names when they talk about coaches or players that they have never met. We always make it a point to warn our players about the social media. Don’t put anything on the internet that you cannot tell your mother.”
Nicole Davis, North Johnston athletic director: Davis uses Twitter a lot and the school’s booster group often posts on Facebook. She will skip Twitter to check for scores.
“We talk to our athletes about social media, that it can be positive way to brand yourself as a great role model. But social media could change your life in a negative fashion also. We encourage positive remarks from our athletes concerning opposing teams, officials, fans etc.”
April Ross, Carrboro athletics director: Ross uses social media regularly and checks on sites that use the school name.
“At each pre-season parent-coach meeting, I speak to our parents concerning the pros and cons of using social media. In light of recent, publicized intercollegiate and interscholastic social media issues and the new NCHSAA rule, we will discuss appropriate uses of social media directly with the student athletes.”
Using social media
The National Federation of State High School Associations recommends that athletic administrators and coaches should embrace social media as a way to tell the story of high school athletics. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be tools to report results, promote upcoming events and to build enthusiasm.
The Federation in a November 2014 issue of “High School Today” recommended social media accounts be used for:
A. Distributing scores and announcing upcoming games, venues and starting times.
B. Emphasizing core values.
C. Praising players by name and handle.
It also is recommended that coaches speak to their players about being alert for cyberbullying, which can include students being ridiculed, shamed, embarrassed, taunted or otherwise harassed through social media.