The new dilemma: college athletes and the Internet

With the recent dismissal of University of Texas’ offensive linemen, Buck Burnette, it got me thinking about the correlation between athletes and social networking sites, mainly MySpace and Facebook.

Most students at Sam, as well as other schools, have a Facebook page and/or MySpace page, but is it all right for athletes to have them? After all they do represent the school or team they play for more than regular students and provide a ton of money to the school.

I have many friends on Facebook and MySpace, but a lot of them have decided to delete their MySpace accounts when they graduated and started looking for jobs.

I even have a few friends, now playing minor league baseball, as “friends” on my accounts. But, they still have their accounts, so should college athletes have their social networking pages taken off because of one bad comment from a player at a prominent university?

Burnette posted a comment after Barack Obama was elected president with a racial slur in it. It read, “All the hunters gather up, we have a (slur) in the White House.”

It was posted from his cell phone using the “What are you doing right now” feature. All my friends use the same thing all the time and a lot of people can see it, which he should have known before posting that.

I don’t care how he feels about our newly elected president, but what he said was highly uncalled for. The way I look at it is–would he actually say that to the press? Probably not. But it got out anyways and as a result he was kicked off the football team.

University of Texas’ coach Mac Brown would prefer his players not have them, but he can’t make them not have one.

“It’s a public right they have as students,” Brown said. “We have told them that we would rather they not have them, and we’ve told them that they need to obviously not put anything on there that their mom wouldn’t want to see.”

I am not sure if it was right kicking him off the team because of what he said, even though I disagree with what was said. He is exercising his freedom of speech, but used poor judgment in what he said.

More than likely something was said about this in their “rules of conduct” given to each player before the season. I know my freshmen year in college, when I was playing baseball at another school, we were told not to say or do anything that could damage the school’s reputation. Burnette did hurt the school’s reputation by saying what he said, and therefore could have been kicked off for violating team rules.

However, the Houston Chronicle did some research and found out that only 60 players on UT’s two-deep roster had Facebook pages. Maybe this altercation will lead to some more of the students deleting their accounts whether they use them responsibly or not.

“I told (our players) to be careful with Facebook and MySpace,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “Those things are really dangerous.” Evidently he was right about it.

If a student-athlete can be careful about it, there is no harm whatsoever. I get random people all the time requesting my friendship on Facebook, and I accept without even thinking about it. I could care less, but then again I am not an athlete and the same rules don’t apply to me as to how I represent SHSU, being I am not in the limelight all the time.

Texas Tech’s quarterback Graham Harrell received 5,000 friend requests alone in the last two weeks. That could be associated with his jump in fame from the wins over UT and Oklahoma State.

But if you use the sites with sound judgment, it shouldn’t be a problem. But a word to all you graduating seniors: it might be wise to delete your MySpace page because prospective employers will take a look at your page, and like Brown said, “don’t put anything on there you wouldn’t want your mom to see.”

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