We are officially into the era of instant gratification with social media – will a certain coach like my tweet or not? – and that will make the recruiting game worse.
On Aug. 1, per NCAA Proposal 2015-48, also known as the “click but don’t comment rule,” the following changes took effect:
“An athletics department staff member may take actions (e.g., “like,” “favorite,” republish, “tag,” etc.) on social media platforms that indicate approval of content on social media platforms that was generated by users of the platforms other than institutional staff members or representatives of an institution’s athletics interests.”
In other words, coaches are no longer regulated to respond to a high school prospect’s tweet with a “like” or a retweet. Their restrictions include not tweeting directly to a recruit, tagging the prospects, replying to tweets or adding quotes to retweets.
Coaches are allowed to show their approval of a kid’s tweet no matter the young prospect’s age.
This is a dangerous rule allowed by the NCAA, one that will make recruiting even more of a circus than it already is with nationally-televised announcements of a player’s college decision. If you think today’s young athlete already has a sense of entitlement, wait until the Twitter wars take place.
Going through the kids’ minds now these days: I wonder if a coach will show some love to my tweet? What coach retweets me the most? Why doesn’t a certain coach like my tweet? Does the coach not care about what I have to post? Why does the coach retweet his stuff and not mine?
Nothing like putting frivolous matters over education, which should be the utmost concern for high school student-athletes entering college. What the NCAA allowed with this rule: A kid can place abstract over substance and further stray from reality into fantasy land. The NCAA should implement rules that contribute to the development of young student-athletes with its coaches and administrators as a driving force behind that.
This rule does the opposite. This turns a kid’s future into a popularity contest with the coaches serving as celebrity judges.
The NCAA has stated as its rationalization for 2015-48: Under the current legislation, it is difficult to monitor all coaches and their social media activities (e.g., “likes,” “favorites,” republishing, “tags,” etc.). This proposal would create exceptions to the restrictions related to endorsement activities and publicity related to recruiting on social media platforms and attempt to maintain pace with the frequent creation and/or enhancement of social media applications.
Rather than try to police social media use by coaches – a burdensome task that was insufficient – the NCAA has decided to turn the cheek and hope all goes well.
What makes this more of a farce: Many coaches do not administer their Twitter handles because they have little or no time, especially during the season, to be scrolling through posts of their recruiting targets. Many athletic department staffers post and react on Twitter under the coach’s account.
Therefore, a coach will have no clue that he or she liked a tweet by a recruit. That leads to superficial relationships, not what you want at a time in a young person’s life when strong bonds are necessary to motivate the athlete in the right direction in life.
The previous rule of allowing the coaches to privately message recruits on Twitter was fine enough. Coaches also can text message the young prospects, which is appropriate conversation if done at the regulated times and the coach is communicating with the athlete, not a stand-in playing the part.
With the click-but-don’t-comment rule now in place, coaches must adjust. Utah, as an example, employs a director of football digital media who is named Maddie Ford Hansen to sort through the numerous Twitter accounts of the Utes’ recruits who have either committed or are targeted by Kyle Whittingham and his staff.
After midnight struck Aug, 1, with the new rule active, Hansen retweeted 41 recruits, five of whom have already committed, within an hour and half. So at 1:30 a.m. the Utes were responding to tweets from kids.
“I’m far from a social media expert: I don’t understand a lot of it,” Whittingham told the Salt Lake Tribune. “But I understand that it plays a vital role in recruiting. The key is that we’re keeping current and maximizing all the things that are now allowable.”
The game within a game has taken a weird twist. Let’s hope today’s young athlete does not get played by it in the end. A college education, valuable athletic experience and life in general goes well beyond a retweet on Twitter.