Social Media Concerns

SOCIAL MEDIA CONCERNS: Why Do Young People Have Such a Hard Time Understanding The Consequences?

One of the more stupefying trends that continues unabated in our modern, high-tech world is the uncensored use of twitter and other forms of social media by athletes in their teens.

The irony is that most young athletes – because they have grown up with this technology as part of their lives –  SHOULD be better educated and more thoughtful before they pick up their cellphone and post something that – perhaps at the moment – seems funny to them —  but if they had given it a little more thought, they might have stopped themselves.

Now, we have talked about this kind of behavior many times on my show before. I recall the football player from New Jersey who tweeted some offensive stuff and immediately lost college football scholarship offers for his stupid comments. The football player apparently didn’t realize that college coaches follow him on tweeter, and once you post something stupid, it’s impossible to pull it back.

There have been plenty more incidents about twitter that have cost athletes big time. And now we have a new one to talk about:

It was reported last week that Mo’ne Davis, the star pitcher from the LL World Series last year, was the innocent subject of a nasty tweet.  According to several media sources, Joey Casselberry, a junior first baseman from Bloomsburg University in PA, tweeted the following:

“Disney is making a movie about Mo’ne Davis? What a joke. That slut got rocked by Nevada.”

Now, that simple tweet has had the following impact:

Casselberry was dismissed by the baseball team at Bloomsburg. His case will be reviewed by the school’s disciplinary committee, which is the school’s usual practice.

To her credit, Mone wrote an email to the college saying, “Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance. I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way. I know people get tired of seeing me on TV. But sometimes you got to think about what you’re doing before you do it.

“It hurt on my part, but he hurt even more. If it was me, I would want to take that back. I know how hard he’s worked. Why not give him a second chance?

Let me repeat that one, key line from Mo’ne: But sometimes you got to think about what you’re doing before you do it.

As my colleague , law professor Doug Abrams, has pointed out many, many times, social media postings on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all the rest are routinely viewed by one’s school, coaches, professors, and even employers.

Yes, you DO have the right of freedom of speech in this country, and you can say what you want….BUT you always have to live with the impact of what you say. So the real question is:

Why in the world don’t our young people understand this?  

In this case, this is a college baseball player – a junior –  who is presumably 20 years old…what was he thinking? Or better said, why was he not thinking?

These days, pretty much every HS, travel, and college coach in the country lectures one’s players about not engaging in social media during the season. Just don’t do it. And yet, it still happens all the time.

For example, the UConn women’s basketball program, under Geno Auriemma and associate coach Chris Dailey, have instituted a season-long ban on UConn players using twitter. And the players clearly abide by that rule.

In fact, UConn players are not even allowed to use their cell phones al all during team meals or other team get-togethers. Such meetings are viewed by the coaches as an important opportunity for the players to talk and to bond with each other, and the ban on phones makes that much easier.

That’s a pretty smart policy regarding twitter and cell phones…maybe that’s one of the reasons why UConn women’s teams are so good, year after year.

In any event, I do want to salute Mo’ne for being compassionate about this baseball player’s error in judgment, but that being said, it doesn’t excuse what this baseball player did. As Mo’ne said, sometimes you’ve got to think about the consequences of your actions BEFORE you do something.

But if the athletes aren’t paying attention…or if they think their 140 characters are just too funny to cause any harm or to put themselves in an awkward spot, clearly they will have to face the consequences.

Zero tolerance, in my mind, is still a very effective way to get a youngster to think twice before they do anything stupid. Or maybe we just follow the lead of UConn women’s basketball – just ban twitter from the very practice of the season to the very last game.

  • chris

    2 years ago I was wondering where a underclassmen high school team mate of my daughter’s was going to college and if she was going to continue to be playing her sport. I went to her facebook page and there she was with a can of beer at a high school party. I recognized the basement was her parents house.
    it happened again where I just googled a club player we were very friendly with years ago and low and behold this kids twitter account popped up and there were her own personal comments laced with 4 letter words just commenting on general news.
    the sad part is most coaches know kids drink and do stupid things so I believe some coaches overlook the obvious when looking for players. but if a coach is drawing the line between 2 players and it comes down to a twitter or face book page we all know what is going to happen. (I hope)