Most young athletes dream of playing at the highest level, especially in college, with a full-ride scholarship. With so much competition, College recruiters have expanded the scope of what they look for to select, or un-select a scholarship athlete. No longer is your college potential tied to your 40-yard-sprint speed or how quickly you throw to first base.
Grades and citizenship still matter, but the new screening tool is the content easily found on social media profiles and posts. Why is this important? Schools are predominately public institutions, with brand reputations and federal funding sources to protect. Even private colleges rely on federal education dollars and no institution wants to risk something so important as reputation.
A viral video is funny at first, but usually there’s a dark underside. Someone is being made fun of, or the stunt demonstrates a kind of recklessness that could harm the performers or bystanders. This also includes a video showing rude or bizarre behavior.
What goes for college, also counts for the pro teams. The website for Men’s Journal recently talked to Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff about recruiting. After scrutinizing their size, strength, and reflexes, what he looks for in recruits is mental dexterity and social maturity. These are just a few characteristics teams now assess to predict whether a player will thrive in the NFL. “I think we’ve done a really good job evaluating players from the feet to the neck,” says Dimitroff. “From the neck up is the new frontier.”
Think about Cam Newton’s post-game interview, following the Panthers loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Regardless of your opinion of why he acted the way he did, Newton’s sullen behavior and lack of cooperation with the reporters reflected poorly for the Charlotte organization. There’s a lesson here. Be aware that anything you say on camera has the potential to end up in your college file.
Camera phones are everywhere, and live streaming has become a breeze. An athlete cannot control what someone else decides to post. So if you are serious about playing your sport in college, please act in a mature manner. We want to make sure you get to the finish line.
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