Remember the old days of recruiting? Letters and phone calls, letters and phone calls everywhere. These days it’s Facebook and Twitter, and the attention comes from more people than just the head coach of the team.
Social media has become engrained in our society, and for some student-athletes-to-be, it is their primary means of communication. A lot of these kids already spend mass amounts of time on social media sites every day, so getting communications from prospective schools on there is preferable to traditional phone calls and letters. Not only is using social media advantageous for connecting with kids who are already regular users, the interactions also have much looser rules and regulations than traditional means. While the NCAA is quick to react and respond when coaches make too many calls, the rules governing contact through social media allow for much more direct and indirect communication. For example, coaches are allowed to call juniors once a week, and seniors twice a week; however, there is no cap on how many messages they can send those recruits on Facebook and Twitter.
The stipulation for contact through social media is that coaches must send a message directly to a recruit; not post it on his wall, send it over FB’s instant messaging, or tweet it at them. If you are unfamiliar with these social media networks and how they work, this method is essentially accomplishing the same thing, just in a different way. One specific example of social media rules not falling in line with traditional rules is the way social media messages are handled versus text messages. Coaches are absolutely not allowed to text recruits, no exceptions. The problem is that smartphones and social media are so compatible these days that most messages on social media come through in the same way a text does. If a coach texts a recruit “big game this weekend, keep an eye on our play-calling,” how is that any different than sending a message over FB that the recruit reads on his phone just like a text message? Oh Wait(insert sarcastic tone), they do have a rule in place for that: If a recruit is getting their social messages relayed to their phone(which pretty much every smartphone on the market does), please stop doing that and log in through your mobile browser to read them. Yep, that should take care of it.
Communication between coaches and prospective players is not the only dynamic in play here, there is also communications from supporting and opposing fan bases. While some recruits inevitably lavish in the attention and extra followers they may receive, the tables can quickly turn if they do something to anger a fan base, like choosing a rival school. There have already been numerous reports of abuse from unhappy fans, from non-stop spamming, to name calling and slurs, all the way to death threats.
Social media is here to stay, and its role with recruiting will always be changing and evolving. Finding a balance between complete freedom and over-regulation is paramount to getting the most out of these powerful tools, both for the players and to the institutions recruiting them.
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