what’s available on the internet. Cell phone numbers and home addresses
can be easily accessed by scavengers perusing the World Wide Web.
Looking through the depths of free databases, any stranger can view
vital information normally reserved for immediate family.
Through a couple of mouse clicks, Facebook.com is a prime website for
freaky information to fall on the wrong eyes. The collegiate version of
myspace.com, Facebook.com is an online directory that allows users to
create individual profiles. Users can become ‘online’ friends with real
life contacts and create spider-web like networks by joining common
Facebook is synched with users’ e-mail addresses. Upon its creation,
only dot-edu domains were allowed to provide a niche for college
students. Within the past year, Facebook has expanded, granting access
to high schoolers.
Aimed to be a digital social network, Facebook often reunites old
friends who’ve lost touch over the years. It allows for contacts to
spark conversation with each other by viewing their mutual friends. But
importantly, it builds a sense of community on campus while allowing
students to put a face to a name.
However, the digital database is quickly becoming a monster for college
athletic departments. Without a policing force, athletic directors
aren’t sure what policies, if any, need to be implemented. And more
problematic, many athletic departments aren’t aware of the issue.
ECU is no exception. Though, ECU hasn’t made their stance public, many
athletes’ profiles contain comments and images that are strikingly
On the profiles, users can post all manner of personal information such
as cell phone numbers, class schedules, even sexual orientation.
At least one football starter has his cell phone number displayed on
his profile while numerous athletes list their personal instant
messenger screen names. Many times, the instant messenger profiles
contain contact information. Many birthdays, something many media
guides are shying away from listing, are also posted.
Another way for students to connect is with the Facebook message
system. Messages can be sent privately, like e-mail, or they can be
posted on "The Wall" of another member’s profile. Those can be read by
others, unless deleted.
An unidentified football player posted that Duke is a “basketball ass
school” regarding a picture taken during the 2005 season opener. Other
derogatory jokes, including many directed at women and drug references
are common throughout the football team's profiles. Again, the profiles
can be accessed by a player’s ‘online friend’ or anyone with an ECU
dot-edu e-mail address.
At least one person affiliated with the football program, but not a
player, wrote a comment on a player’s “Wall” congratulating his recent
grades. While players aren’t restricted from contacting administrators
on a social basis, the contact straddles the
The focus of Facebook has been the ability for students to post
pictures online. The pictures are “tagged,” which allows for the
picture to appear on a user’s profile. The images can be logged in
personal albums or attached to profiles. The trigger is that images can
and do directly incriminate athletes.
At least six, some prominent football players, are either shown
drinking what clearly appears to be alcohol or holding an alcoholic
beverage while underage. Recently, two former women athletes were shown
in romantic poses with other women.
However, the comments and pictures are common compared to their college
peers. Almost two-thirds of students have Facebook profiles. Of those,
many are littered with college jargon and alcohol-induced photos.
Students joke with their ‘relationship status,’ often thinking its
funny to be joined in same-sex ‘online marriages.’
Basically, the ECU athletes are on par with the student body. But
because the athletes are held as public figures, at least on campus,
shouldn’t they be held to higher standards? Think of a picture of
the college freshman, or James Pinkney, the starting quarterback,
a beer bong. Which is going to cause more of a public uproar?
Many colleges encourage students to sign social agreements, with the
understanding that by choosing to accept a scholarship and compete
athletically, the students are held to different standards. And, darn
it, they should be.
Yes, athletes are students just the same. However, if a headline ends
up in a newspaper’s crime report, the university’s image is tarnished,
along with the athlete's. And that reason alone sets the
apart from the student body.
Don’t get me wrong, student-athletes should have access to Facebook
profiles. But increase the privacy rating. Eradicate the inappropriate
messages and get rid of the crime-laced photos. Other than that, enjoy
Seriously, someone within the athletic department, preferably Terry
Holland, needs to educate his student-athletes on the dangers of
posting incriminating photos and intimate information. The stance needs
to be made public.
It would preempt some potentially embarrassing information being
reported, similar to the ones involving hazing recently posted on
If nothing changes soon, the Facebook monster will continue to get