Becoming social media directors

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2012 - 10:37 PM

Coaches shudder when athletes post volatile content on social media. They're trying to curb the abuse without ending its use.

A sign on the locker room doors at Bloomington Jefferson jumped out at Tom Dasovich. Big, bold, underlined words, in all capital letters, some of them underlined for emphasis:

"Treat every conversation you have on TWITTER or FACEBOOK as if it were a NATIONALLY TELEVISED PRESS CONFERENCE."

The Minnetonka boys' basketball coach spotted the note during his team's recent visit and snapped a picture on his phone. Then he posted it on Twitter with the message "Players take note." Nearly half of his 173 followers retweeted or favorited the message.

Such warnings have become a staple of high school team meetings and huddles at practice, joining longstanding warnings about alcohol and drug use.

With teenagers communicating, venting and celebrating with the lightning speed of social media, coaches and athletic directors are scrambling to cope with and limit negative effects of controversial tweets, posts or photographs. Fears of defamation, suspensions, forfeitures and team chemistry issues have led some coaches and administrators to fight the use of Twitter and Facebook by their athletes.

Others, such as Dasovich, are embracing the reality that teenage athletes will find ways to keep their social status up to date.

He manages two Twitter accounts and encourages his players to use them to follow team news and events. He also monitors or trolls through his players' tweets, on the lookout for anything that could taint the Minnetonka name.

"I thought about getting one of those teachable moments out of it," Dasovich said of posting the locker room door message. "Helping kids navigate that world, I think, is important. [Proper use of social media] is a big issue with schools and teams."

Huddle talk: Be smart online

DeLaSalle football coach Sean McMenomy's phone erupted the afternoon former Gophers wide receiver and DeLaSalle alum A.J. Barker posted his denunciation of Gophers coach Jerry Kill and the football program on the Internet. Though he didn't coach Barker, McMenomy still felt the effects of something he classified as an example of how far such statements can reach.

Daily reminders are now a part of McMenomy's battle against ill-advised social media use. The post-practice and postgame speech message to "avoid parties, drugs, alcohol" now includes "be mindful of what you're putting on the Internet."

"With what happened in recent months and last year, you worry about it," McMenomy said.

This past season a Breck football player began a Facebook quarrel with someone at DeLaSalle that led to his suspension and required an in-person apology to the downtown Minneapolis school.

"We are always trying to keep ahead of the game," McMenomy said. "A kid can put whatever the heck they want out there. We gotta figure out what we can do to protect ourselves, and that's educate kids and stay on kids."

Curtailing chatter in Edina

Edina boys' hockey coach Curt Giles made Barker's rant required reading for his team and asked his players to steer clear of such potential social media distractions.

Junior defenseman Tyler Nanne said he took the message to heart. The avid Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat user said he has sacrificed a lot of his social media freedoms.

Nanne and senior defenseman Matt Nelson agreed it's tough to operate under such limiting guidelines, but the consequences of misuse are much worse if left in the hands of their 1,000-plus Twitter followers.

"It can destroy a team and a program," Nelson said. "The guidelines are to protect ourselves and the program as a whole."

Nelson, who has committed to play hockey at Princeton, already has received social media guidelines from his future college. Many major colleges have taken similar measures. The University of Michigan recently formalized social media practices for all athletes and required each to sign an agreement. Associate athletic director David Ablauf called it a "reactionary" response to a growing problem.

Edina girls' hockey players Casey McGarvey and Shelby Anderson said they've learned you can't take back an ill- advised message once you've hit send. And Lakeville North girls' volleyball player Alyssa Goehner considers her 1,062 followers a serious responsibility.

"Sometimes kids send out things and they don't understand the end result, how far it reaches," said Giles, who requires his players to put all their phones in a box prior to games. "[Kids] are going to use it. You always see them on their phones, on Facebook, in Twitterland. We just have to make sure they understand how to use it."

Coach learning curve, too

Understanding the proper use of social media also can be a challenge for coaches and athletic directors. For some, it's overwhelming to even try.

While Bloomington Jefferson girls' basketball coach Andy Meinhardt is well-schooled on social media and took the initiative to post the warning sign on the school's locker room doors, boys' basketball coach Jeff Evens admits to knowing little about the social media world.

Former Southwest football John Biezuns embraced the new world by connecting with colleagues and players. In November, he suddenly resigned for personal reasons amid speculation of misusing social media. He recently said he could not speak on the matter, but acknowledged he has learned a lot from his social media use and called its integration with sports "probably not a good thing."

"Coaches need to be aware of anything social media and as a coach, you have to be careful what you say," Biezuns said. "Anything that gets written down, e-mailed or texted can come back to haunt you."

Bloomington Jefferson athletic director Brian Fell will implement a version of the University of Michigan's new social media guidelines for next year's Jaguars athletes.

Minnetonka boys' basketball captain Riley Dearring is convinced the Skippers' approach is best.

"We all try to look out for each other. If we feel there is something that should not be put out there, we let each other know," Dearring said. "I think it's a good way for players to connect with other players. It's a good way to get information out."

  • related content

  • Tips to avoid social media mishaps

    Monday December 17, 2012

    • Don't post anything you wouldn't say to your family, a coach, employer or media.

  • Record-setting player was modest about his prowess

    Monday December 17, 2012

    Norm Grow, who died Saturday at 72, held several state hoops scoring marks.

  • Athletes of the week: Scoring knack emerges for Panthers guard

    Monday December 17, 2012

    Friends have been asking J.P. Macura to divulge his scoring secret.

  • Minnetonka basketball player Bremiah Snyder tweeted after the Skippers’ game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Saturday. His coach, Tom Dasovich, manages two Twitter accounts carrying team news and also monitors his players’ tweets to ensure they’re not embarrassing themselves or the team.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close