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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Social Media: A Bane on NCAA Stars

Wild on Sports
Social Media: A Bane on NCAA Stars
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

Once the college football season ended last year, the storylines surrounding A.J. McCarron and Johnny Manziel were much different than they have been in the past few weeks. McCarron will be entering his senior season at Alabama, and will be attempting to win his third national championship with the Tide, which would be unprecedented for a quarterback. Johnny Manziel was coming off of a season in which he captivated college football fans and even beat the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. He is on the short list of favorites for this year’s Heisman along with McCarron, and fans have been excited to see them play this year and how the season will play out, especially since Texas A&M will host Alabama on September 14th. However, as has been the case recently, social media has had a negative effect on how these players have been talked about recently.

McCarron’s life has become increasingly popular since the BCS National Championship Game, but not because of his play. ESPN commentator Brent Musberger was announcing the game, when the camera panned over a girl in the Alabama stands, who happened to be A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend Katherine Webb, and caused Musberger to gush over the broadcast with partner Kirk Herbstreit. Since then, Webb has covered the Super Bowl, filmed a reality show, and appeared in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. As Webb has become a media sensation McCarron’s life has also been brought into the spotlight with her because of their relationship. On May 26th, a photo on Twitter showed a ring on Webb’s left ring finger and the media took off with rumors that she was engaged without verifying these claims. Webb has since come out and denied the engagement, but the fact that it was even a story shows the impact that a simple picture on social media, which is now everywhere with smart phones, Wi-Fi, and the various social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few. Last week, an Instagram photo surfaced of McCarron with model Margaret Wood, who was a friend of McCarron’s. She had stayed the night at McCarron’s because of a cancelled flight, and people exploded with theories that he was cheating on Webb. As it turns out, Wood was too drunk to drive so McCarron did the responsible thing and didn’t allow her to leave. Once again, the use of social media was used to direct attention to McCarron’s personal life rather than the upcoming season.

Johnny Manziel became a superstar overnight, when he led Texas A&M into the SEC and totaled over 5,000 of total offense and 47 total touchdowns, finishing with an 11-2 record. Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and seems poised not only for another run at the Heisman, but possibly a National Championship shot with A&M. However, if Manziel has one Achilles heel, it’s his use of social media, specifically Twitter, making his day-to-day exploits everyone’s knowledge. Pictures of Manziel have surfaced of Manziel with handfuls of money at a casino, and with a “tattoo” of the Texas Longhorn symbol, sending the “Twitterverse” into a frenzy. Manziel has become a media star, appearing at the Super Bowl, throwing out first pitches, and appearing on television talk shows. Recently, Manziel and former teammate Ryan Swope were in a music video, sparking the rumors that Manziel was paid for the appearance, which he wasn’t. Over the weekend, Manziel sent out a tweet, which he has since deleted, saying that he couldn’t wait to leave College Station because of some incident. While everyone jumps to his desires to go pro or transfer, isn’t it more likely that he was having a bad night and overreacted. While Manziel has to know that he has become a huge sensation and that everything he does is under a microscope, he is still 20 years old, and uses social media like many other users, to express his thoughts. Unfortunately, his thoughts are accessible to 370,000 followers and numerous media outlets.

Because the new age of social media is able to publish any thought that a person has, people need to have a general sense of what to publish and what not to. However, in cases of premier athletes, especially at the college level, they have to understand that their social media use is being followed by news companies, and that everything that they put on social media could end up being a story for ESPN later that day. Coaches are trying to help their players manage their social media usage, but with players like McCarron and Manziel, their superstardom keeps them in the spotlight. Hopefully for them, and college football fans, all of this unnecessary noise is drowned out by their performances in the upcoming football season.


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