Twitter has been aflutter during and immediately after the national signing period for college football. As Broccoli (2011) defined in his article, the NCAA is to “govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education.” The NCAA provides a number of services to its member institutions, among the most important of which is regulating the recruitment of student-athletes. The NCAA controls the recruitment of student-athletes by determining both the time and manner in which university coaches and officials may contact an athletic recruit. There are many restrictions to assist in the protection of recruited athletes, which is understandable. However, how much regulation by the NCAA is too much? There are stipulations on phone calls, faxes, and responding to emails; however, there seems to be a loophole with the two most popular social media outlets, Facebook and Twitter.
The NCAA has attempted to suppress the creation of social media groups trying to attract and enroll potential recruits to their school; however, this policy is impractical and totally unrealistic. There is not enough “people power” at the institution or the NCAA to monitor this type of activity. And, honestly, why should they? The NCAA is essentially regulating the First Amendment rights of university officials and students. Also, when one newspaper writer asked more than 100 football and basketball recruits whether such Facebook groups had any effect on their ultimate choice of college, not one said that such groups had any effect whatsoever (Broccoli, 2011).
More likely, the misuse of Twitter and Facebook has the potential to embarrass or do more harm to athletic departments than good. The athlete in the Twitter age has almost complete control over how the public views him or her and it will likely make or break many endorsement contracts in the future (Packard, 2011). With all of the hype of Ohio State winning the National Championship with Cardale Jones as their leader – a tweet resurfaced from 2011. The third-string quarterback made his feelings known about attending classes: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play football, we ain’t come to play school, classes are pointless” (Ward, 2014). Our initial reaction to seeing Jones tweet was “why are you so foolish?” But, then, we are reminded that he is a 20-year-old kid. He could have said or done a lot worse and it appears that he truly learned his lesson, especially after hearing his announcement that he declined entering the National Football League draft. Jones stated, “Football has been a stepping stone for my education. So being a first-round draft pick means nothing to me without my education” (Watson, 2015).
Twitter and Facebook are definitely ways that we, the general public, can stay connected to athletes. Technology is actually a bridge to a new kind of personal relationships with our sports idols. Jones is a perfect example of why young student-athletes just need to think before hitting Tweet.
Broccoli, V. (2011). Policing the digital wild west: NCAA recruiting regulations in the age of
Facebook and Twitter. The Sports Lawyers Journal, 18(1), 43-66.
Packard, W. (2011, June 17). How digital media is changing the sports experience. Retrieved
Ward, A. (2014). Infamous Cardale Jones tweet a ‘steppingstone.’ Retrieved from
Watson, G. (2015). Ohio State QB Cardale Jones is staying in school. Retrieved from
Sandra K. Geringer, M.Ed., is a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the United States Sports Academy, a tennis professional, and a huge Ohio State University fan. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Stephen L. Butler, Ed.D. is the Dean of Academic Affairs at the United States Sports Academy, a frequent contributor to the Academy’s Sports Talk, and proud to be Sandra’s professor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.