Cobb County School District’s Director of Athletics, Don Baker, recently spoke to athletes at Pope High School about social media. Utilizing the acronyms SHINE and PINE, Mr. Baker taught the student-athletes about being responsible online and recognizing that what they post online will affect and influence others.
Pope Athletic Director Josh Mathews has been organizing events like this every month. He invites all of the school’s athletes to a character education assembly that focuses on an aspect of their daily lives that can make them a better student-athlete. “I asked Mr. Baker to discuss how social media can be used to improve the students’ personal brand,” he said, “while also pointing out the pitfalls.”
Mr. Baker got right to the point in his 15-minute talk. “You are building your resume with every post, retweet, and like on social media,” he said. “Life is a full-time interview. Stop and think: would those closest to you be ok with you posting, retweeting, or liking that?” He reminded them that life is a series of choices and “the choices we make dictate the life we lead.”
He also told them that younger kids are looking to them as examples. “Just as you look to those older than you as examples,” he said, “these young kids are watching you. They are observing how you react to both the good and the bad, and this influences how they will handle similar situations.”
SHINE, he told them, stands for Support, Highlight, Inspire, Network, and Educate. These are the positive ways to use social media. Support is using social media as a way to spread positivity. Highlight is drawing attention to yourself and others for positive accomplishments. Inspire is being impactful and uplifting. Network is using the platform to connect with others, and Educate is pointing to what is important in your life and your future.
The negative side of social media, or the PINE, is what to avoid. PINE stands for Plagiarize, Illegal, Negligence, and Extreme Emotions. Plagiarize means not using material without permission. Illegal refers to activities that are criminal, whether doing them or just posting about them. Negligence and Extreme Emotions mean to think before you post. “Don’t post something you may regret later,” he told them. “And also don’t allow anger, jealousy, or frustration to control what you post. Be authentic, but think before you post.”
Mr. Baker told the athletes that while SHINE and PINE may seem obvious, athletes have lost scholarships because of what they posted online. “Your social media is public for all to see,” he reminded them. “If two people are in a dead heat for a scholarship or an internship or a job offer, what you have posted online could be the deciding factor. Think about that.”
After the event, Mr. Mathews was grateful for what Mr. Baker taught his student-athletes. “He delivered great insight and reminders to our athletes. There is no doubt they’re better after hearing Coach Baker’s words. We are so thankful we have resources like him in our county, people who welcome the opportunity to pour into and help shape the lives of our student-athletes.”