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College Recruits and the Twitter Culture

OPINION: The culture that Twitter has amassed can be dangerous for recruiting athletes.

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I'm an avid fan of Twitter. Since its inception in 2006, it has grown to about 310 million active users. It serves multiple purposes and a user can customize their timeline to receive whatever type information. In recent years, Twitter has been a major social platform for college recruits to share news about their recruiting process. Of course, any faithful college fan might want to follow where these athletes may end up, especially if it's your school they've got their eyes on. Those recruits, whether transfers or high school seniors, are aware of the attention that they get from coaches, fan-bases, and the media. With how accessible Twitter has become, this can be dangerous.

It seems now-a-days that recruits are updating their Twitter with every move they make. Always announcing college visits or if they received scholarship offers from yet another university. People following this stuff eat it up. I've seen recruits tweet out edited pictures of them playing in a school's uniform and that fan-base will go crazy and retweet it or even reply to the recruit. What's the purpose of this? After last night's implosion of A&M's recruiting trail over some tweets, the word "Loyalty" has been thrown around. Can we really put that kind of responsibility on young men? It's unfair for recruits to be tweeting out images of them photo-shopped with a university's jersey. One could take it as a pledge of allegiance to the school, but it's the complete opposite. Any recruit is smart enough to realize that they have the spotlight on them for a very long time,  or at least up until they sign that letter of intent. That attention can easily be used to gauge fan-bases. How do they react to recruits announcing they enjoyed their visit? Do the fans want them to play at their school? I think that's one reason why recruits are so vocal on Twitter.

Something about the Twitter culture is that because the platform is so accessible, anything can go viral. It can sometimes be a numbers game. Think about this, if a recruit were to tweet out their "Top 5"  of schools they wish to play at and it gets hundreds or even thousands of retweets, That recruit may think it's now important to tweet out everything about their recruiting process because it's obvious that people care. There's issues with this. Tweets are taken way to serious, and lots of people assume things about what the recruit has to say. If they were to tweet about how great their visit to Oklahoma was, fans of the Sooner might think they have that recruit in the bag, but when the recruit signs with someone else, there's an uproar. It happens almost to anyone.

I also don't understand this business about declaring commitments and decommitting via Twitter. The first issue is that every tweet ever sent out is archived by Google, so internet trolls could easily come and haunt any recruit that decide to change their minds. Those types of things can be held against them. Second, it doesn't feel legitimate to make a huge commitment like choosing schools over Twitter, the same platform that is full of memes and parody accounts. Congratulations on your commitment to (insert university here) but i won't buy into the hype until you sign your letter of intent and walk out onto the field that next fall. It's also a nightmare to see recruits decommit from universities via Twitter. How many of those recruits actually contact the coaches before they post on twitter?

I understand these kids are just kids, but they're about to play at the next level. They need to accept the responsibilities that come with it. In my opinion, if they decide to be vocal all over social media sites, they need to be deliberate with their posts. They need to understand what their tweets can do to the recruiting landscapes. If you don't believe that the Twitter culture is shaping the recruiting landscape just look at what happened in College Station last night. Twitter is now an important part of the recruiting process.