With a single social-media misstep, student-athletes could lose athletic eligibility or a scholarship. But that's not stopping them from using Twitter sometimes even during games, when they may see harsh criticism of their performances from fans, according to a study by Baylor University and Clemson University researchers.
While many college athletic teams prohibit student-athletes from using social media during games, some breach the rules to get a "real-time" commentary on how they are doing during the game, said Blair Browning, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study.
The study, published in the International Journal of Sport Communication, was based on interviews with 20 student-athletes in an NCAA Division I university.Student-athletes said that they used Twitter to keep in contact with family and friends, communicate with their followers and access information about the games and their athletic performances.
The study, co-authored by Jimmy Sanderson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication studies at Clemson University, is called "The Positives and Negatives of Twitter: Exploring How Student-Athletes Use Twitter and Respond to Critical Tweets."
Twitter is ingrained into student-athletes' daily routine, with one athlete saying that "I mean, the kickers and snappers and me are kind of in the corner of the locker room . . . so I'll get on Twitter and I'm like, 'Great first half' . . . "
Other athletes said they wait until after games to use Twitter. In any case, comments often are critical or even abusive about the student-athlete both performance-wise and personally.
"It is tweet-worthy when fans show support because the alternative is obviously the norm," the researchers wrote.
While athletes know that criticism comes with the turf, Twitter critics are especially brutal because "brazen confiden
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