Friday, February 25, 2011

NCAA Athletes and Facebook

After what seemed like days, months, years, millennia, etc. to comb the internet and academic databases, I finally came across an article that had some empirical data regarding NCAA student athletes and social media. The bad part is this was published a few years ago (2008).  Another problem is that for the purposes of the article it grouped all social media outlets together as "Facebook" so it did not break down its data specifically to individual social media sites.


As with previous articles I have explored, the main focus of this research was to look at how colleges are combatting image problems as well as protecting student athletes from themselves basically from the misuse of Facebook (I'll be like the researcher and just group everything together in this manner). It seems that in all articles I have looked at, the recurring theme is that there is way to much grey area due to the fact the NCAA still (as in February 25, 2011) has not taken a solid stance on its views on social media outlets.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: The way the researcher, Frank Butts, approached this was by trying to gain an overall sample of NCAA student athletes that included male and female athletes, along with schools being selected (6 total) ranged from Division I to Division III schools. Butts, obtained his information regarding social networking sites through the use of a survey and promised that all responses would remain anonymous, 522 responses were collected total of those 308 were male and 214 were female.

FINDINGS:  Butts determined through analyzation of data that the views of males and female athletes regarding certain aspects of social media sites (personal image projected on Facebook, athletic depts. image, athletes recommended level of how athletic dept should monitor Facebook) differed greatly between the two.

MY TAKE: There are several things that I felt was lacking in Butts research.  The first was in regards to his methodology.  Not once does Butts list exactly which school were chosen and why, as far as we, the reader, knows, this could merely be a convenience  sample taken due to connections that Butts had.  Also, though 522 responses were noted, not once does the research mention how many surveys were not completed which I felt would have been interesting to see what the response rate was.  As far as the actual results, one area that stood out was that the % of athletes who viewed their image as negative or somewhat negative was around 0-1%.  As someone who has read dozens upon dozens of research articles along with philosophy papers, I think it is easy to say that the reason why this number is significantly lower then that of responses that ranged from very positive to neutral is due to the fact that even though these responses remained anonymous, people tend not to view themselves in a negative light.  The discussion area also lags behind. One conclusion in particular that Butts reaches is that Div II athletes have lower awareness of self image on Facebook and he states that this is because there is less staff available to help the athletes, however how this conclusion can fathomably be reached is never discussed in details.  Though I felt like Butts did try to make an honest attempt at shedding light on how athletes view social media sites, in the end his research seemed to have too many holes in it for me to take it as conclusive.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tech 621 Article 2

This past week I continued my research in exploring the relation between social media and college athletics.  I used Google Scholar this time to locate articles to sift through.  In doing so I found another interesting piece that the USA Today wrote back in 2006.  A quick citation of this is as follows:

Brady, Erick & Libit, Daniel. “Alarm sound over athletes’ Facebook time.” March 8, 2006. Accessed through Google scholar February, 2, 2011.

Brady and Libit's article related to last week's article in relation to recruiting that is being doing regarding Facebook specifically.  Though it lacked plenty of examples as the Maher article, it did provide some insight into how coaches are having to deal with social media.  The best example regarding recruiting was how the assistant coach of Baylor's mens basketball team, Matthew Driscoll, had to intervene on a player's behalf on the players Facebook profile. What caused the intervention was due to a "runner' for an agent trying to convince the player to go ahead and sign a contract.  Luckily for the Baylor staff, the player quickly notified his coaches who then notified the school board of what was going on.  Coach Driscoll used the player's profile to tell the agent to cease all communications with their team.  After examining this example, one can wonder that though this is one case that was reported, if would be foolish to think that other cases go on unreported.

The article as a whole was more geared to how Facebook is being dealt with on the university level as coaches and schools try to protect their players.  One way that colleges are dealing with Facebook dilemmas is by notifying their players that they have to "scrub" their profiles.  Some of the colleges that were listed as doing so were Kentucky, Baylor, and Florida State. In the case of FSU, athletes were told they had exactly 10 days to have profiles "scrubbed."  Now in regards to what "scrubbing" means, it is not taking out an oxypad and wiping down their keyboards, instead it is to let the players delete all pictures and comments which may be considered offensive or show behavior that could be considered risque such as underage drinking.  

Speaking of, the universities that did go on record and discuss issues that they deal with for Facebook it seems that underage drinking photos are the number 1 thing that lands student athletes in hot water.  Dave Bezold, coach of Northern Kentucky mens basketball, found several photos of his underage players drinking alcohol in pictures on Facebook.  After investigating between himself and the athletic director, other athletes in other sports were also investigated.  The athletic director, Jane Meier, stated that she believed that between their 13 college athletic programs as well as their cheerleading squad that around "70% of the student athletes had pictures involving them with alcohol."  The way that NKU dealt with the situation was by having a conference with the athletes and letting them off with a stern warning as well as making them delete the pictures that stirred the controversy to begin with.

The last point the article raised was again how universities police these sights on a regular basis and even though the student interest is one thing that they are watching for, it appears the universities are also trying to make sure that nothing their student athletes due forms a black eye for the colleges from pictures and comments that are posted.  A letter to Baylor athletes was shown that notified the athletes that everything they do on Facebook can be seen by others and may cause themselves and/or the university to look bad and to be aware of what exactly they are posting using the social media site.

In conclusion this article built upon my previous article by Maher through giving more examples of how Facebook is being used/monitored for recruiting as well as expanding the concept of how social media itself plays a role in today's college athletics regarding student athletes.  However, like Maher, though this article was informative some of the information did seem a little time dated.  One problem that has occurred while exploring articles to use for this research assignment has been trying to find articles that I don't have to purchase through other sites.  Hopefully, by the time next week rolls around and my third article is analyzed, a more timely piece can be presented.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TECH 621 Article 1

Since my post about being a habitual line stepper, I actually further researched to see if any scholarly articles had been written regarding the matter of college athletics and social media interactions.  Using Ebscohost and Academic Search Premier I was able to find the following:

Maher, Matt. You've Got Messages: Modern Technology Recruiting Through Text-Messaging and the Intrusiveness of Facebook. Texas Review of Entertainment & Sports Law; Spring2007, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p125-151, 27p.

Now the first thing to point out regarding the article is the year of publication.  A lot of things have changed since 2007, the article itself lists Myspace as being the 6th most popular website at the time, while Facebook was a mere 66. As anyone can tell the sites are reversed with Facebook being in the top 5 sites everyday.  Regardless, the information the author was pertaining to did give more insight and thoughts about how social media is shaping and changing the way recruiting is being done, as well as the way NCAA violations may occur.  Maher presents his research through looking at NCAA bylaws as well as the way current universities monitor interactions and their own athletes time and usage on social media sites.  One university, Loyola University in Chicago, actually banned all of their athletes from using Facebook.  However, Maher points out that at what point does a university infringe upon an athletes right on the First Amendment, or do student-athletes relinquish this right when they accept the opportunity to play for a college.

Maher also examines points that I had previously gave little thought to.  As far as messaging on social media sites goes, Maher determines that it is improbable for the NCAA to "police" every message an athlete receives and therefore one can only guess that messages may pertain to violations such as illegal recruiting (here's looking at you Cecil Newton) or as harmless as a child rooting on their favorite athlete and just sending a message saying "HI."  The other dilemma that Maher  raised was the fact of how hard it is to authenticate a student athletes profile on social media sites.  For example, I typed in Jujuan Johnson into Facebook and received over 20 profiles all claiming to be Jujuan Johnson, even more fake profiles exist for former UK player Demarcus Cousins.  In this instance, Maher posed the question of whose responsibility is it to protect the athlete from fake profiles and negative publicity, is it the NCAA or the University, or does the answer lie somewhere in the middle?  Thinking about this for several minutes, I believe that the answer does lay somewhere between the university and NCAA level, more on the university level.  However, I do also see Maher's points of what could go wrong if someone decided to make a fake profile of an athlete and then just destroyed that persons image, it could have lasting effects both emotionally and professionally on an athletes credibility just because how hard it would be to authenticate whether or not that profile actually belonged to said individual.  Maher gave the example of Myron Rolle, who enrolled in FSU, but before that had fans posting on his wall encouraging him to go to other schools.  The biggest drawback of this was someone did in fact create a fake profile as Rolle and entered into several chat rooms and made others to believe that he was actually going to college elsewhere, something the media picked up on as fact.  

In conclusion,  Maher related earlier points, that the university and NCAA will both have to monitor what athletes do, as well as try to monitor and protect athletes from unruly fans as well as those who are trying to cause harm.  As far as recruiting goes using social media, Maher again focused on how much of a grey area there is and how hard it would be to police all messages recruits are getting, which is something I completely agree with.  However, I do believe that as social media continues to be incorporated in everyday life that one or the other, NCAA or colleges, will have to make a hardline stance and rules in order to make sure they cover all bases not only for their own personal benefit and safety, but the players and athletes as well