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January 20, 2012

Social media needs balance with awareness, education

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Most days Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic would like nothing more than to beat its rival - Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep - in anything.

This week, however, it has nothing but sympathy and understanding for the school after it was forced to expel one of its students - star football player Yuri Wright - for a series of inappropriate comments on Twitter.

It's an issue all high schools face. One that can strike at any time despite all the warnings and teaching schools can provide.

"We have brought in speakers for our entire student body and not just our student athletes to talk about social media - how it can affect your present, your reputation, and your future," Bergen Catholic athletic director Jack McGovern said.

"We try to be active in advising the kids but we cannot be with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you have to educate them, reinforce the message, and be there to talk to them if they have questions.

"There are so many social situations that were not there when I was growing up, but I don't think the message changes, the kids have to make good decisions and realize what they have to lose."

Wright already has lost a lot.

He was expelled from Don Bosco Thursday after a series of tweets that were sexual graphic and racially inappropriate were found on his account.

The revelation caused Michigan to drop its scholarship offer. Other schools are mulling doing the same thing.

Social media has become the latest headache for high school coaches. Just ask Olney (Md.) Good Counsel head coach Bob Malloy.

Like Don Bosco, Good Counsel finished in the Top Ten of the final RivalsHigh 100 this past season. And like Don Bosco, it has numerous Division I recruits.

Malloy says social media is becoming as big a concern as GPA for college coaches.

"Danny Hope (from Purdue) was here for three hours, the coaches from Villanova and Richmond, too," he said. "And during their time, each asked us about (social media). It is a part of the society now. "

Malloy said the issue is discussed with his players all the time.

"We had a coach come into the school in September and talk about it," he said. "Our assistants are monitoring the kids facebooks and twitters to make sure they aren't saying or doing anything they shouldn't be."

Malloy, old school tough, said coaches of his generation - in high school or college - have no patience with social media problems.

"Guys my age are the guys coaching college football teams and they don't have tolerance for being stupid," he said. "That is what it boils down to.

"Most of these kids are good kids and are trying to put on a show. They are trying to continue being cool or whatever, but that doesn't fly when you have a chance to get a full boat to a really good school and they need to understand it."

Malloy only understands the issue is not going away.

"We joke sometimes that Twitter and Facebook have become a bigger headache than parents asking about playing time," he said.

RELATED: Wright expeled for social media vulgarity | Share your thoughts

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