Back To The Basics

Here’s an issue within mass communication: media training for our student athletes. I’m sure they go through some lectures and have sit-downs with coaches. But to the outside world, all of the attention seems to be focused on how student-athletes handle themselves on social media rather than interacting with reporters and traditional media.

I did a quick Google search of “media training for NCAA athletes” and the first result was from a 2006 ESPN article. The rest of my article options on the first page regarded social media training for college athletes. I personally know that there is a large focus on social media for my student athlete friends here at UNC. For example, the men’s basketball team has an individual who monitors the player’s tweets around the clock.

But in light of two specific instances during this NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, maybe it’s time to readjust the focus a tad.

Last night, the racial slur uttered after his first and final loss of the season by Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison (Video contains NSFW language). Ironically enough, Harrison responded to the incident via Twitter.

And earlier in the tournament, a hot mic caught Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes saying “gosh she’s beautiful” to a teammate during a press conference.

Obviously the two examples are very different in weight. And as someone who does not play varsity sports at the collegiate level, it’s not entirely fair for me to speculate on the traditional media training these athletes go through. But after two incidents where players were caught off guard by a hot mic, it may be time to stop deeming social media the evil medium.

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