Social media has changed the game in so many areas of our lives. While I tend to look on the bright side for most things, I’m not completely naive. I realize that platforms such as Twitter and Snapchat have made the school’s job more challenging.
And what is one of the most visible places within a school? It usually is on the athletic field, on the court or in the rink.
High school sports is a big part of a school district’s reputation, so you must make sure you address how social media fits into all of it. There are two main “players” when it comes to this topic. Athletes and coaches.
This week, we are going to address the student athlete side of the equation. Next week we’ll share more about the coaching side of things.
Rules of Engagement
Challenge students in the right way, and I think they will do amazing things! So why not encourage your students to use social media to promote your athletic programs? They can be great ambassadors if you follow a few steps.
Start out with an in-person meeting with both student athletes and parents. This should be done at the annual athletic code meeting, but you should talk about it again at the start of each sport season. The main point of this meeting is powerful. The activity of the athletes and parents – both on and off the court, and on and off social media – represents:
- You (the athlete or the parent)
- Your family
- Your team
- Your school
- Your community
When you join an organized sport, you carry a big responsibility. While the thought of representing so many different people above should be enough, here are the do’s and don’ts for student athletes. Grab this free printable copy that you can use to hand out.
- Do – praise teammates and team efforts
- Don’t – bash opposing teams or individual players
- Do – thank fans for their support
- Don’t – swear or misspell words
- Do – realize you are a role model for many younger students at your school
- Don’t – harass others or mention race, religion, sexual orientation or physical conditions
- Do – know that if you retweet or share something, you own it!
The toughest part of setting up these expectations will be creating the consequences. Forced time on the bench is an obvious deterrent, but having these well laid out beforehand will help when the issue comes up. And I’m sorry to break the news to you, but it will come up!
Beyond consequences, don’t be shy about recognizing players who use social media to promote the team. Reinforcing the positive behavior will encourage others to do the same. You don’t need trophies; simply declare a MVT (Most Valuable Tweeter) and allow that player to skip out on a line drill in practice.
Share Your Story
Is your athletic program doing great things with students and social media? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below so we can share your best practices with other schools.