The other day, we wondered if and when pro sports teams would start clamping down on athletes using social media. We mused that at the college level, it is likely easier to enforce. A story from the Louisville Courier-Journal illustrates that point perfectly:
Student-athletes at the University of Kentucky and most at the University of Louisville surrender their online privacy to their coaches under a social media monitoring system used by both schools and others across the country.
As a condition of participating in sports, the schools require athletes to agree to monitoring software being placed on their social-media accounts. The software emails alerts to coaches whenever athletes use a word that could embarrass the student, the university or tarnish their images on services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.
U of L flags 406 words or slang expressions that have to do with drugs, sex or alcohol. The University of Kentucky flags a similar number, of which 370 are sports agents’ names.
Some athletes at Louisville are subjected to it. ALL athletes at Kentucky are subjected to it. And what are some of the flagged words?
Gazongas. Think about it. Of course, sometimes all these banned words cause hilarity to ensue:
One student was flagged for writing, “God is the only one who can heal me, help me & fight for me” — because the word “fight” was used in the post.
An attorney quoted in the story thinks this is all a giant violation of First Amendment rights. It's a good thing, then -- in case you are wondering -- that this type of thing does not happen at the University of Minnesota. We know because we asked. Per athletics spokesman Garry Bowman: "We try to educate student-athletes about making good choices with social media, but we do not have a banned-word list."