Social Media and the College Athlete

August 26, 2011 Mississippi State dismissed freshman forward D.J. Gardner from the basketball program citing

“for repeated actions deemed detrimental to the team.”

This news came only hours after several vulgar tweets were posted to Gardener’s twitter account, which was deleted soon after.


This brings me to the question “should a college athlete’s actions on their personal social media accounts be held against them?”

Let’s face it, social media is everywhere today. Most everyone has uses it and it can be accessed in the palm of your hand from anywhere, at anytime. Social media can be a very powerful tool and needs to be used very carefully.

Some people may argue that his privacy was violated and that what he posts on social media shouldn’t be held against him and his athletic career. However Gardner is just one of many examples of college athletes that have had careers cut short because of stupid mistakes made via social media.

Examples of Social Media Mistakes Made by College Athletes

Bradley Patterson was a football player from the University of Northern Alabama and was dismissed from the team shortly after he tweeted about not caring for President Obama. His tweet was

“Take that n**** off the tv, we wanna watch football”

Needless to say his twitter account was also deactivated.

Cardale Jones was a football player for Ohio State University when he sent out this gem of a tweet…

Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.

He was sidelined for his next game his Twitter account was deleted.

Last but not least is Courtney Fortson, a basketball player from the University of Arkansas. His tweet-

I’m gettin it at workouts like a dude who doesn’t understand the word no from a drunk girl.

May not have been his smartest move right after several U of A students had been accused of rape. He was suspended indefinitely from the team.


While the NCAA doesn’t have any “set in stone” rules regarding social media use of current athletes, they do have rules regarding social media use in the context of recruiting. Some of those rules include no texting between coaches and recruits, no electronic transmittance via instant messaging through social media sites, and no posting on social media “walls” of recruits just to name a few.

In spite of having no set rules fro current student athletes, the NCAA recently suspended Lehigh’s Ryan Spadola for “retweeting” an allegedly inappropriate racial slur. The NCAA chose to make an example of the student-athlete, despite his apology.

In light of many recent events, including the Ryan Spadola incident, many schools are adopting their own social media policies. The following example is from the University of Southern California’s Student Athlete Social Media Policy:

• Photos, videos, and comments that are of a sexual nature. This includes links to websites of a pornographic nature and other inappropriate material.
• Pictures, videos, comments or posters that condone drug-related activity. This includes but is not limited to images that portray the personal use of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
• Content online that is unsportsmanlike, derogatory, demeaning or threatening toward any other individual or entity (examples: derogatory comments regarding another institution; taunting comments aimed at a student-athlete, coach or team at another institution and derogatory comments against race and/or gender). No posts should depict or encourage unacceptable, violent or illegal activities (examples: hazing, sexual harassment/assault, gambling, discrimination, fighting, vandalism, academic dishonesty, underage drinking, illegal drug use).
• Content online that would constitute a violation of Pac-12 or NCAA rules (examples: commenting publicly about a prospective student-athlete, providing information related to sports wagering activities; soliciting impermissible extra benefits).
• Information that is sensitive or personal in nature or is proprietary to the USC Athletic Department or the university, which is not public information (examples: tentative or future team schedules, student-athlete injuries and eligibility status, travel plans/itineraries or information).

Recruiting and Social Media

Brandon Chambers, a Marymount VA men’s basketball assistant, once tweeted

“Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship”

Recruits are being scrutinized more than ever on their social media usage and in the example below SMU coach Van Malone shows how a potential recruit is being monitored via his personal social media.


Another example of social media affecting recruiting is Yuri Wright. Yuri Wright, one of the best high school cornerbacks in the country, was recently expelled from his high school after sexual and racially offensive comments were made on his private Twitter account. Despite being “private,” this account had at least 1500 followers, all of whom could see the offending messages. As a result of the postings and expulsion, the University of Michigan stopped its recruiting efforts.

Now you can see how one tiny lapse in judgment can completely and totally alter the future of a student athlete. Is a tweet really worth it?

Personally I believe that everyone should watch what they say on social media. You never know who is watching what you say and do. Treat everything you put out there for the world to see like a potential job interview.

Would you really want your boss to see that you went out to the club drinking with your friends and drunk tweeted everything you did that night? Do you really want your personal relationship drama out there for people to see? Do you really want your extremely bad grammar skill on display? I really hope the answer is no to all of these questions.

Back to my original question, “should a college athlete’s actions on their personal social media accounts be held against them?” I really think it depends on the situation. If a college athlete has signed a social media policy saying outlining rules to follow ad one is broken then yes, they are in the wrong. However if they haven’t signed anything then I don’t think anything should be held against them.

What are your thoughts on college athletes and social media use?




The History of the Selfie

Selfies. Everyone knows what a selfie is. They are plastered all over social media and the new iPhone update even has a special photo album dedicated to them. Selfies are everywhere today whether we like them or not.

Merriam-Webster defines the word selfie as

an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.

The word first made it into the dictionary in 2013.

The oldest known “selfie” is thought to be Portrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck, an Early Netherlandish painter, in 1433.


Portrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck

This work of art is thought to be first self-portrait ever painted and pretty much every well-known artist since has painted his or her self into his or her work somehow, either as a self-portrait or somewhere in the background.

Some of the most well known selfie artists are Frido Khalo (1940), Vincent van Gogh (1889), Rapheal (circa 1517-1518), and Leonardo DaVinci (circa 1512-1515).


Some people may disagree with me on using self-portraits as selfies, since they don’t exactly fit the definition of a selfie and were technically painted and not taken with a camera of some sort. If we are going with that definition of a selfie then the oldest selfie ever recorded is said to be Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait taken in 1839.

Robert Cornelius

Robert Cornelius was definitely way ahead of his time when he set up his camera in the back of his family’s store where he took the image and wrote on the back “The first light picture ever taken. 1839.”

Fast forward to the 1950’s and we have a fantastic selfie taken by former secretary of state and decorated Gen. Collin Powell when he was a teenager.


Gen. Colin Powell

A few years ago Sir Paul McCartney tried to lay claim to the title with this picture he took of himself in 1965

Sir Paul McCartney

…sorry Sir Paul!

In June of 2000 Samsung launched the very first cell phone with a camera in Korea, the Samsung SGH V200. Unfortunately the camera and phone were separate entities and in order to see the pictures you took you had to plug the device into a computer and download them.

The first camera phone in the U.S. didn’t launch until November 2002. Sanyo introduced the Sanyo SCP-5300 on Sprint’s network.



Around the same timeframe MySpace was launched and the most popular choice for profile pics was the selfie. MySpace was soon followed by a multitude of social media platforms including the Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. One major thing all of these websites have in common is the use of selfies as profile pics.

MySpace Tom

MySpace Tom

Apple helped up the selfie game with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone is extremely important in the history of the selfie because of its integration of both apps and the ability to post selfies directly to the Internet anytime, anywhere.


Apple iPhone

The invention of apps paved the way for social media apps, both old and new. In 2010 Instagram was released and it introduced the world to photo-sharing apps. Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps today with one of its more popular hashtags being #selfie



2013 became the official “year of the selfie” with the introduction of the word into the Merriam Webster dictionary.

Over time selfies have become so much more than a grainy picture taken in a bathroom stall. In fact, todays smartphones are capable of taking pictures with better quality than most actual cameras used to.

Selfies have completely changed the way we represent ourselves both in person and online. People today are way more visual than ever before and depend on profile pictures, online photo albums, pictures, and videos more than ever before. As a vain society we want to be put our best face forward and what better way to do that than with a selfie?

Some people will argue that selfies show severe narcism and some see them as a form of activism. I see them as a fun form of self-expressionism.

2014 gave rise to some pretty famous selfies including the oh-so-popular celebrity selfie taken at the Oscars. Apparently some people saw this as a marketing ploy by Samsung but I will leave you to decide what you want…

Oscar Selfie

Another controversial 2014 selfie is this one that was taken at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. President Obama is selfie-ing with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain’s David Cameron but curiously enough the actual photo has never been seen, only this photo of the photo being taken.

Obama Selfie

Obama Selfie

2015 brought us some Pope selfie action!


Pope Selfie

So there it is, the history of the selfie. Who would have thought that painting oneself into a self-portrait would lead to such a big movement in today’s culture?

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is defined as the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. However, I prefer the definition Barry Adams, Chief SEO Polemicist of Polemic Digital, offers in this article. He defines SEO as getting more relevant traffic to websites via search engines’ organic results.

I think SEO means something different to everyone but it is still here to serve one basic purpose…to get people to see your website in their search engines.

So how does that even happen?

First you need to take a look at your website’s analytics. I like Google Analytics but you could also use WordPress Analytics or whatever came with your website, just know that not all analytics are created equally and Google Analytics is considered the gold standard among all analytics collectors.

Within your analytics you will find the terms people use to search and find your website. From there you can see which terms are most popular and which ones are getting people to your website the most. After you figure out what key words are driving the most traffic you can go to a keyword database, such as, and search for your most popular terms and see what other, similar, terms are being searched the most.

Next, you need to search for other websites that use those same search terms to see who your biggest competition is. It’s always better to what you are up against, right?

So now that you have figured out what the best keywords to use are and who your biggest competition is you need to make an action plan. You need to take those keywords and create amazing content that includes them organically. It would be weird to just have random words and phrases thrown about so you need to make your content relevant and meaningful and at the same time use your keywords and phrases throughout the content.

After you make sure your content makes good use of your keywords you need links. But not just any links. You need to make your content so good and so reliable that people trust you and will link back to your site. Google loves links and the more links you have the more they see your website as “important” and then your page will make it further up the search page. So instead of your cat photography website being on page 21 of a Google search, it will be on the first page and be more likely to get clicked.

Now some people will disagree with me and say that just because someone links back to your site, that does not make it SEO. Some people out there think that SEO is strictly using effective keywords and hopefully being found in Google searches. However, with all the websites out there today I think that it takes a little bit more than you using a few keywords and a prayer to get your website higher up in the Google search pages.

I believe that building a brand that people trust enough to link back to and say good things about in addition to using your keywords and phrases is better for building good SEO and getting your website found in search engines.

So is that all there is to SEO? Unfortunately no. Google likes to play a little game where they switch up the algorithm so that what worked a few weeks ago might not work now.

Did you just say algorithms? What does that have to do with anything?

Search Engine Optimization is based on algorithms and each year Google can change its algorithm 500-600 times, mostly minor changes that won’t affect you but occasionally with huge changes. The most recent huge changes were The Quality Update (May 3 2015) and Panda 4.2 #28 (July 17, 2015).

So what can you do to keep up with all of the changing algorithms and keep your SEO game tight? As the saying goes, content is king. Keep your content fresh and relevant and know how to interpret your analytics so you can see if anything has changed.