SB 1349 Protects Privacy for Student-Athletes
You’ve all read by now that California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the SB 1349 bill, which prohibits public and private universities from requiring students or prospective students to disclose their user names or passwords to social-media sites. The governor’s office says the law “is designed to stop a growing trend of colleges and universities snooping into student social-media accounts, particularly those of student-athletes.”
This is terrific news. What a wonderful way to urge athletic departments to take a pro-active approach to social media. It changes the department strategy from monitoring what student-athletes say to educating student-athletes how to use social media in a positive and purposeful way. It takes the program from crisis prevention mode to leadership academy.
Athletic programs which provide student-athletes with social media education, are working to improve their players’ communication skills. This type of education can help athletes understand how to build their professional profile, act with self-respect and encourages them to cross-promote other sports, and be positive examples, leaders in social media. It is very much like media training and preparing them for print and television interviews. But social media has a much more immediate and expansive impact than traditional media. Social media permeates every aspect of a student-athlete’s life.
Empowering student-athletes, as well as coaches and staff, to serve as brand ambassadors will have a far more positive impact on loyalty to the department, willingness to achieve specific goals and will produce a much higher ROI. Educating the entire department can effect not only what staff, coaches and athletes say, but when implemented with strategy, can impact ticket sales, community outreach, donor cultivation and improve recruitment efforts. No matter what goal a department may have, communication strategies, which integrate social media, can work to achieve those goals. Monitoring social media does not drive revenue. Enabling staff, coaches and athletes to embrace social media and actively use these networks, uplifting them as brand ambassadors will drive revenue where needed.
It was former student-athlete and Michigan quarterback, Kirk Cousins, who said at the NCAA Convention in January 2012, that the more support they were provided as student-athletes, the more they wanted to give back to the program. And that’s key. Many athletic programs forget that their student-athletes really want to serve as good representatives of the university and are searching for ways they can respond to that demand. When you choose to monitor your athlete communication, your are essentially telling them that you do not trust them and they are not capable of handling the responsibility of representing the university. That’s not a message well-received by students. And fortunately, it’s not a message they will have to hear any longer.
I’m thankful that California stepped up as a leader on this topic and passed the SB 1349 bill. There is no benefit to operating in a reactive mode and positioning your department as big brother over student-athletes. These “kids” are young adults who are attending an academic institution and are keen to learn how to improve their lives. Athletic programs can serve to enhance the academic experience student-athletes enjoy by providing social media education. These are life and leadership skills that effectively make them a better, more well-rounded player and more able to contribute significantly to the athletic program.
Beaming Bohemian consults with university athletic departments to establish social media guidelines, educate staff, coaches and student-athletes, and implement smart communication strategies which work to achieve specific goals. Every athletic department is looking to drive revenue. Beaming Bohemian can help you take advantage of social communication tools to do just that. Contact us at 619.244.2400.