Big Brother for University Sport

Responding to worries about student athletes on social media.

There has been not insignificant anxiety in US higher education about the inappropriate use of social media by student athletes and universities are looking to monitor activity much more closely. On this side of the Atlantic the issues have largely been confined to professional sports people (and Joey Barton).

Whilst there may be general worries in UK universities about student use of Facebook and Twitter these have yet to have the impact that some unfortunate transgressions have had in the US where some universities have banned athletes from using Twitter following concerns about insulting, vulgar and generally questionable posts by players. And also because the coaches suspect social media might represent something of a distraction for players.

Fortunately, for those universities which struggle with monitoring social media usage there appear to be several organisations dedicated to ensuring that student athletes behave themselves. Looking for example at via Varsity Monitor, one of these monitoring outfits, we find they have an interesting prospectus:

For Athletes and Parents:

College recruiters actively review social media accounts to fully evaluate the character of potential recruits. Varsity Monitor works to ensure that social media posts do not negatively impact recruiting or existing scholarship offers.

For Institutions:

Coaches, Administrators and Sponsors need to ensure that Athletes uphold their organization’s standards and adhere to their code of conduct when using social media. Varsity Monitor provides monitoring services that help verify that policies are being followed.

Varsity Monitor provides extensive social media education for athletes and administrators designed to establish a solid foundation for the positive use of social media. Exploring methods and techniques to leverage social media to promote and enhance their brand and reputation.

Just extraordinary. Is it worth it if the teams deliver the results required? Or is is excessive intrusion into students’ non-academic activities?