Sophomore April Serrano perfects her catching technique during practice on a warm day on Birmingham Community Charter High School’s field.
Senior Ana Perez stands her ground as she prepares to catch the ball that was thrown at her during practice.
Every day millions of pictures, messages and conversations are shared and posted online through social media by students, but not all conversations going on are admirable—especially among athletes.
Birmingham Community Charter High School (BCCHS) has recently implemented an extension to one of their policies regarding how athletes use social media. So far it has only affected the girls lacrosse team, but may soon be extended to other sports teams.
The policy states that student-athletes will not participate in any hazing events and will report to the coach of the sport with any knowledge of such incidents. As a result of hazing the student will face suspension, being kicked off the team or even expulsion depending on the severity of the problem.
“This policy, the girls lacrosse policy, is basically stating the school rules about using social media,” athletic director Rick Prizant said. “Post responsibly and there is no problem.”
Girls lacrosse head coach Scott Silva came up with the idea after seeing the social media waiver from Simi Valley High School which has implemented the same policy to all of their sports teams.
The waiver includes rules such as not posting threatening things that go against BCCHS, not engaging in negative discussions, not posting emails, addresses or phone numbers of any other person besides the player.
However, some students think this policy is a facade for censoring students.
“Freedom of speech, people should be allowed to voice their opinions,” freshman Meghann Blake said. “Even if it’s negative.”
In school, students are not given full access to freedom of speech, meaning there are some regulations on how and what a student can say. Especially for athletes who are constantly being searched by scouts and colleges.
“Within reason, I think that even a college can condition a person participating in sports based on what they are posting on their social media accounts,” Peter Scheer, executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition, said. “You couldn’t have a rule saying that students couldn’t use social media or publicly criticize their school or their team, or their coach on their social media accounts. That would be going too far. That wouldn’t be permissible.”
While others are fine with how the policy affects them.
“We all care for our sport, the amount of effort we put into our sports is the same so to be criticising others or insulting their sports is not right,” senior Ana Perez said. “Keep your comments to yourself if it’s rude.”
Though the policy only talks about student-athletes, the signed waiver includes the athlete’s family as well. Family also plays a part in keeping a positive view on friendly competition.
“We want to see our athletes reflect a positive image,” Prizant said. “They should be encouraging other students to play for a team or to support the teams by going to a game. Let’s try to do the best we can.”
—Kyrah Hunter and Jose Herrera