Social media privacy is tight for NIU athletes

By Andrew Singer

DeKALB | Social media forums like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way college students make fools of themselves.

Tweet-induced insanity has made it difficult to believe there are people out there that actually care about what they put on the world-wide web. Student-athletes, though, have to think and rethink about what they post on their favorite internet forum.

The NIU football team recently had a meeting with new head coach Dave Doeren about the potential risks that social media sites present to the team. In his fourth year at NIU, quarterback Chandler Harnish is well aware of the negative aspects of Facebook.

“I have my Facebook as private as you can make it,” Harnish said. “And if someone posts something on my wall that I think might reflect poorly on me, I will automatically go up and remove it instead of risking it.”

Shooting guard on the NIU men’s basketball team, and NBA hopeful Xavier Silas knows that pro scouts are watching everything that he does, including his internet activity.

“You just have to filter it because people look at you differently than just another student at school that goes to classes,” Silas said.

Nathan Palmer is careful about what he posts, but the junior wideout on the NIU football team isn’t about to stop having fun.

“You still have to have fun with it,” Palmer said. “Me and [teammate] Jordan Delegal will be tweeting about trending topics in class sometimes.”

The only challenge Palmer has with Facebook is controlling how many people he becomes friends with.

“It has gotten crazy, sometimes I get over 20 friend requests a day,” Palmer said. “I have over 2,500 friends and I’m just approving the ones with mutual friends.”

Part of assistant coach Sundance Wicks’ job is to friend request and follow the members of the NIU men’s basketball team. And the assistant coach isn’t afraid to admit how often he checks the Facebook-happy Huskies.

“I’m a classic Facebook stalker,” Wicks said. “Checking guys’ statuses, what pictures they’ve been tagged in. Then you are always going to catch one guy that had all the privacy setting all the way up and thought he could keep me out of the loop. I’m a government hacker, though; I know how to get in there.”

The NIU coaching staff forms a close bond with all of its players, but there are still some things that players are more apt to tell Facebook than their coaches.

“You might see a guy at practice that looks cheery, but you know his Facebook profile says that there is something in his life that is a little off,” Wicks said. “Then you know you have to change your coaching style for that day.”

While some players choose to vent their frustrations over the internet, others prefer to use social media to showcase their personalities.

“It gives these kids an outlet to express themselves,” Wicks said. “For example, Xavier Silas is extremely deep with his tweets, and then there is Nate Rucker who likes to post his favorite rap songs.”

Silas and Rucker don’t deviate too much from their personalities on the internet, but junior point guard Bryan Hall caught even Wicks off guard with his Twitter account.

“I found out that Bryan Hall is the king of Twitter,” Wicks said. “I think he has 400 followers, but I didn’t even know he had a Twitter because he’s so quiet. He sure is loud on Twitter, though.”