For all these wonders, though, there are problems on the horizon. How, for example, do you tell a student athlete that he/she can't be casual, joking or relaxed online because his "funny" facebook post will be taken out of context and used to criticize him and the program? That the hysterically goofy picture of him/her at the party will reappear on Badjocks.com and nobody will be laughing? How do you simultaneously maintain to a student that he/she is perfectly within his rights to twitter but if he/she does the 140 characters of his tweet will be interpreted in the worst way possible and repeated throughout his/her career?
Those of us in Sports Information are part of the student's educational experience. On the one hand we want college to be a place of growth and freedom. We know that in order to learn what to do and what not to do you have to be exposed to new things in a safe environment. On the other hand we have to point out that everything, literally everything you do that involves the internet is seen and is a reflection on yourself, your coach, team, family, program and school.
This dichotomy between "express yourself" and "watch what you say" is fundamental to Sports Information. We have always pulled student-athletes in both directions, but the growth of instant internet exposure is bringing this issue more sharply into focus. Do we, as educators, err on the side of free expression or do we as public relations officers err on the side of preserving the image of the team, athletics program and university? Do we "let the chips fall where they may" and pick up the pieces afterwards or do we encourage the student-athlete to say nothing in order to avoid saying the wrong thing?