Kirkham's Korner: Be smart with Facebook and Myspace!
Well summer is over and the 2007-2008 school year has begun. The world continues to change at an alarming rate and that is not the bitter observance of someone in their sixth decade (I was born in the fifties)! This is a fact that must be dealt with in a collegiate athletic department.
Social interaction has seen some of the most change and keeping up with the young people and their rapid-fire exchanges is a challenge to say the least. Cell phones and text messaging has allowed contact at all times. Professors have had to banish them to avoid the temptation to cheat.
In athletics we have had to initiate new legislation regarding recruiting rules constantly to keep the prospective student athlete from being absolutely overwhelmed by contacts from coaches. This all stems from advances in technology.
Our greatest challenge has been the advent of web pages like Facebook and Myspace. These are terrific ways to meet and communicate. Very different from the party lines that many of us remember where your neighbor could overhear your phone calls to friends: "Mrs. Johnson let me finish asking for a date, jeesh." We really did say jeesh in the sixties. Now someone in another country on another continent can access your web page and attempt contact.
Educating young people on the dangers and possible repercussions from ill-advised information placed on their pages is one of our current challenges. The latest statistics show that companies hiring graduating students are turning down up to 17% of applicants because of content on their pages.
In athletics, where we hold the student athlete to a higher standard, content on a web page can, and has, led to suspensions of individual athletes and even entire programs. Of course common sense and a clear understanding of expectations and penalties can help our student athletes avoid the embarrassment and even the loss of a career. Bad judgment is part of the growth process. Minimizing the unwise decisions made in youth is part of our expectations for our athletes.
So we no longer have Wally Cleaver trying to get off the phone when his mom was listening. We now have a basketball coach texting an athlete in Lithuania or a student athlete putting pictures of a party on their web page. I am personally waiting for the implanted Bluetooth so I don't have to carry a phone anymore! There could be an issue in charging it however.
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