Not all athletes get in trouble for what they say publicly or on social media.
But, when it happens to someone else, it reinforces the lessons learned for other athletes.
Thursday night, the men’s basketball team from West Virginia was crushed by Kentucky 78-39 in a Sweet Sixteen game of the NCAA tournament. This came on the heels of a prediction by WVU Mountaineers freshman guard, Daxter Miles, Jr. Earlier in the week Miles Jr had predicted that the undefeated Wildcats of Kentucky would be 36-1 after their game with WVU. As the Wildcats proved, talk is cheap if you can’t back it up.
It is that premise that brought me to the Spokane Regional of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. With the WVU loss fresh in minds, I asked coaches and players about predictions, social media and more Friday during media day at the Spokane Arena.
Lexie Brown: We have relationships with a lot of these players that we play against but, we’re at that age where you know not to say too much on social media. Like you said, yesterday, the Kentucky game, that completely back fired on that player’s part. But, Rose does a great job with helping with us know what to say, what not to say on social media. And, starting tomorrow, we’ll be off social media completely until we win both of our games or until our season is over. So, we’ve got to stay locked in. You can’t let the outside world influence how you play.
Laurin Mincy: Just piggybacking on what she said, we know what and what not to say. And from the fun aspect, we do a great job of when we do post something, it’s about the team or about Maryland, period. So, we usually stay positive on social media.
Shatori Walker Kimbrough: Just be smart. I know when I’m looking on the outside, if someone says something about our team, that would just be added motivation. I guess the other night he was using that as some confidence that he had, but, like Laurin and Mincy said, just knowing how to be smart and a time and place for everything.
Amber Henson: I wouldn’t say I have intentionally stepped all the way away from it but, I do make a point to kind of block out things that are going on about the women’s tournament or our team. We kind of have tunnel vision right now. But, I do keep up with the men’s team on social media.
Ka’lia Johnson: I would have to agree. We’re just going to watch the games, the games are on in our hotel, and I just watch the games on TV. But, definitely when it’s game day we go straight into tunnel vision. And, that happens with practice today, we’re in tunnel vision now. Maybe take a step back.
Ariel Massengale: Some of our coaches instilled in us from the beginning of the season, we have social media rules, curfew times, where you shut that stuff off and things that we just don’t talk about on social media. So, you kind of look at other players and some mistakes and whatnot that they made but, yes, it’s something we’re very conscious about and if we see a teammate tweet or put something out there, we are very quick to call them text them like, hey, you need to take that down as soon as possible.
Sunny Greinacher: I actually just heard about this incident that kind of got a lot of attention about social media and athletes. But, I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem for our team. I know that all the girls on the team are more reserved when it comes to that.
But, what we use social media for is for more of getting ourselves hyped and just maybe spreading the word of where we play, encouraging other people to watch us and stuff. But I don’t think it’s a problem for us to be inappropriate on social media, those kind of things, just knowing the girls on our team.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Opportunities to learn from others mistakes is one thing. Learning from your own mistakes is…humbling. Daxter Miles Jr will (hopefully) learn that braggadocio doesn’t win games. But, his experience is a reminder for not just athletes, but all of us. We all need to be mindful of what we say publicly and yes, even privately.
As the ability for mobile devices to take pictures, record video and share instantly on social media, so will the likelihood of people getting in trouble. It is imperative for each of us to be mindful of how we conduct ourselves publicly and on social media. Act naturally is always a safe way to go.
Unless, of course, you’re a natural jerk.