#Sportsproblems: tweets, statuses and photos
ISU athletes “called out” for inappropriate social media postings
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 01:02
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, two athletes were expelled from the games due to inappropriate posts on Twitter.
Greek triple-jumper and medal contender Paraskevi Papachristou was debarred by her own country for mocking African immigrants.
Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella was also sent home after his threatening and discriminatory tweet declared he wanted to beat up South Koreans.
Despite the post-event apologies, Olympic officials justified sending the athletes home and they lost perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic experience for using social media irresponsibly.
It’s not just the Olympic athletes who are being forced to examine impetuous actions.
Last Sunday, several Indiana State University athletes were “called out” for their borderline inappropriate content on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, in the hope of expanding awareness of irresponsible media usage.
Marlon Dechausay, director of student athletic academic services, hosted Justin Paysinger, director of student athlete affairs at Texas Tech University, following recent events involving a social media scandal with a former athlete.
ISU’s Athletic Director Ron Prettyman felt it was crucial to focus on social media and inform student-athletes of how it can affect an individual, a team and the brand of an institution.
“Social media is a lot bigger deal than what it’s played out to be—it’s there forever,” Dechausay said. “What you post is seen by more people than you realize. And you represent a variety of institutions and organizations.”
Paysinger said ISU was one of the least offensive of the universities among those whose social media postings he’s monitored. However, issues such as foul language, underage drinking and photos that promoted alcohol, drugs or guns were present.
“Pictures of alcohol, suggestive gestures or explicit wording was the main concern that we saw,” Paysinger said.
“Nothing was deemed severely inappropriate or able to ruin Indiana State’s brand.”
Universities across the nation have faced legal ramifications because of social media posts by students who are athletes and non- athletes, he said. Social media is not private; thus, posting images or statements that insinuate illegal behavior are subject to punishment.
“Crime isn’t just on the streets,” Dechausay said. “It can be a beer bottle in an 18-year-old’s hands on Facebook.”
In addition, universities aren’t the only institutions that monitor social media. Some businesses, such as a police department in Wisconsin, require applicants to show their social media accounts as part of the interview process.
“It’s getting serious and becoming a more common process for prospective employees to show their social media activity” during the interview process, Paysinger said. “Some have retained passwords and login information, which I think is a bit intrusive, actually, but it’s happening.”
Paysinger said that because social media is such a staple to the present and future culture, businesses are realizing the potential damage to their institution’s brand and are taking extreme measures to limit and monitor social media actions.
Further, Paysinger stressed the importance of keeping social media outlets private. Doing so reduces the ability for random people to follow or friend you and increases the safety of an individual.
“If you’re constantly checking in somewhere, someone could easily follow you wherever you went,” he said. “There are people who have ill intentions on others; personal information makes it easy for someone to track you, your habits or the things you do weekly or daily.”
Paysinger said that the bulk of ISU student accounts his staff attempted to access were set to private, which is ideal.
“Keeping things private is crucial,” Dechausay said. “The amount of information that people put out there can sometimes pin you as a target.”
Dechausay and Paysinger stressed that social media is not a bad utility; it just needs to be used properly.
“There’s a lot of really good things” on social media, Dechausay said. “There are a lot of great people to follow on Twitter that can show you the right way to use social media.”
Dechausay said it’s much easier to diminish the reputation of an institution than to build it. By aiming to eliminate negative connotations and associations, it’s easier to flourish as a successful university, he said.
“I encourage everyone to use social media,” Dechausay said.
“It’s fun to see what’s important to your student athletes. What’s important, though, is to realize that there are consequences for everything you do.”
Paysinger also said that social media is being used positively in ways such as networking, job searching, entertaining and inspiring.
“It can be very beneficial; market yourself and stay connected,” Paysinger said.
“It keeps you connected to the world and can enhance your brand—as long as you’re doing it in a responsible and educated manner.”