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Future of sports in the SCV: New direction in marketability

Athletes turn to social mediums for an edge in the college recruitment process

Posted: July 26, 2010 10:48 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

With technology and the Internet advancing at a frantic pace, one maxim fits nearly every aspect of life.

Keep up or get left behind.

The sports world, even locally, is taking heed of these new developments too, but as with so many other things, pitfalls come with the benefits.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the array of social networking websites available in the vastness of the Internet provide an advantage to players and to academic institutions for exposure and recruiting.

"It's definitely becoming more and more present," says Dallas Jackson, a national analyst for Rivals.com, a nationally recognized recruiting website. "There are only a finite number of scholarships out there and it's going to get bigger and more competitive before it gets smaller."

You can even point to local talents like Maverick Ahanmisi and Collin Keoshian, who have used the Internet to bolster their exposure to NCAA Division I schools.

Ahanmisi says that constant Internet updates from his AAU basketball coach drew attention from college recruiters before signing with the University of Minnesota, while Keoshian parlayed a YouTube highlight reel into a scholarship at Brigham Young University.

"It really helped me," Ahanmisi says. "It won't make or break you, but it definitely does help. You never know when a college coach might be looking."

Exposure, however, treads a fine line with overexposure.

"A lot of high school coaches will tell players not to put things up on those sites," Jackson says. "They don't want (college coaches) to see something and think a kid has a behavior problem. They go on and check those things."

Ahanmisi, who signed to play with the Golden Gophers in May, says that Minnesota coaches made it explicitly clear that players should watch what they say on Facebook and Twitter.

"They told us to make sure your Facebook is set on private and not to add any people you don't know," Ahanmisi says. "You have to really learn, especially at this level, that you're not a normal person anymore. When you say things, it can get out to the press or whoever."

Even locally at The Master's College and at College of the Canyons, players are warned of the trouble social media can cause.

"We try to emphasize to them that it only takes one mess-up on there," says COC football defensive coordinator and recruiting director Dan Corbet. "Then a Division I coach gets a hold of that, and now you don't have a scholarship."

At The Master's College, where religion and morality hold so much weight, the individual programs and the institution monitor students' Internet profiles.

"We confront our kids about it," says TMC head men's basketball coach Chuck Martin. "Our school, across the board, is up to date and checks on kids. Kids have gotten in trouble with stuff posted on Facebook. I can't police it all, but the reality is we're your best defender until you do something we can't defend."

Martin also benefited from the Internet recently and he wasn't even trying.

All he did was check his e-mail and a NCAA Div. I transfer fell into his lap.

Andy Shannon, a 6-foot, 11-inch forward, played two seasons at Pepperdine, but was playing limited minutes. He sent a notice out to Martin that he was looking to transfer, and Martin jumped at the opportunity.

Shannon will be playing for the Mustangs in the winter.

"I was sitting at my desk one day and got an e-mail," Martin says. "We hadn't recruited him out of high school or anything. Those are things that wouldn't happen 10 years ago."

The scope of social media doesn't only impact players and coaches, it also influences the way schools get information out.

COC athletics does this with Twitter and Facebook pages that are used to post live, in-game updates and post news clippings about current athletes and alumni.

"Some players follow us, but mostly it's parents who follow, especially those who are out of state," says Celina Baguiao, COC's sports information director. "They can follow the game and that's the best resource (for them). Parents come to us and ask, ‘How's our son doing?' and we can tell them."

Even the Valley Invitational Baseball League, a summer league for high school programs, is using Apple iPads to give live pitch-by-pitch updates for every one of their over 300 games.

Some people seek exposure, while others may be after information or recruitment.

In the end, it boils down to perspective for many people, including Jackson, who acknowledges that what may work for some, may not work for others.

One thing is strikingly present, however. It's not going away and there will always be those looking to find an edge.

"We are always looking for ways to set ourselves apart," Corbet says.

 

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