Attention high school soccer players!
You are being watched…
Not in a creepy way, and not in a flattering sense by way of game tapes, RecruitChute Profile and YouTube clips, either. We’re talking about social media here, and how the things you say wind up making their way to the people directly in charge of evaluating your potential as a college athlete.
Penn State assistant football coach Herb Hand made headlines by announcing on Twitter that he was discontinuing his pursuit of a recruit based on something he’d seen the young man be involved with on social media.
Though Hand’s tweet was later deleted, his message was not.
In the same way that employers take a closer look at potential employee’s Facebook account, top-flight collegiate programs are probing the World Wide Web for more information about the players they’re recruiting, including social media.
Whether or not a 140-character tweet is an accurate window into the psyche of a five-star recruit is irrelevant. For the record, it’s not.
But when an unofficial visit and a handful of exchanged text messages are all some programs have to go on when recruiting a high school athlete, the best of the best will find information wherever they can.
And in essence, a scholarship is a direct corollary to an athletic program’s trust that a teenager can become a valuable asset for that particular team in the next four years. That trust is about far more than money – it’s about a belief that as a part of their program, the player will be the best example for the school he or she can be.
Is it fair? Probably not. Teenagers will be teenagers. The mistakes and shortcomings we experience during our latter days in high school and in college help shape the people we become in society.
But when it comes to a recruit who isn’t wise to the fact that words have consequences, I tend to fall on the side with recruiters who understand the maturity level it takes to succeed at the next level. It takes a certain kind of athlete, one who is willing to put the team above him or herself at all costs.
Make no mistake – the reason recruits get recruited is because of their talent on the field, court, pitch, pool, mat, track and diamond. If nothing else, though, a positive representation of one’s character on Twitter might be the tipping point on a scale where everything else is equal between two players.
Hand’s tweet was not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. It was a candid look into the mind of recruiters across the country, though, and how one mistake can jeopardize what years of hard work was supposed to accomplish.
Detractors will cry that we all make mistakes, and that’s very true. Luckily, in life, second chances are more prevalent in this industry than maybe any other.
But what if a second chance never comes?
That’s the message today’s recruit should remember before approving their next social media post.
Remember: Someone is watching.