We often talk a lot about student-athletes needing to be careful about what they post on social media. It’s important for not only their recruiting journeys but also how they are seen by their coaches and communities. There’s no hiding on social media and student-athletes can assume everything they put out there can be viewed by anyone.

But the same goes for coaches.

During such an uncertain time, when schools are out of session, curfews are being put in place and many people are fearful for their lives and well-beings, it’s more important than ever for coaches to be good leaders.

Just like a coach can see what a student posts on Twitter or Facebook, the athletes can also see what their coaches are posting.

I have been incredibly disappointed by some of the comments we have received on The Outlook’s Facebook page. It isn’t just about the insults hurled at our publication and our reporters on a day in and day out basis, but I’ve also seen coaches and other well-known people in the community specifically encouraging other commenters to break curfews or not take this seriously.

Please be mindful: The Outlook’s Facebook is extremely public. Anything you write on there can be — and most likely will be — viewed by many and in such a small community, there are a lot of eyes on the page. I’m not saying we can’t take critiques; I’m not saying we, as a news organization, should never be questioned; and I’m not discouraging people from giving us feedback. But to put it bluntly, when you are commenting blatantly rude things to reporters (who, as surprising as it may seem, can and do see those comments) or encouraging people to break what is the law right now in many of our communities, assume your student-athletes will see that.

Players take their leads from their coach.

If a coach demands respect, the players will be more respectful. If a coach is a little lackadaisical with summer workouts and setting a standard, the players are much more likely to become relaxed themselves. If a coach gives players ideas about good, creative workouts, the players have an opportunity to take that chance. If a coach is silent during this time and gives no direction, a player is unlikely to take the imitative if left to his or her own devices.

Of course that’s not true in all cases. Some players are simply self-motivated. Some have individual goals they are working toward; some have parents who won’t let them give up that easily.

But now more than ever, our coaches need to be setting good examples always and that’s in every aspect of life — not just athletics.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. You don’t have to agree with the curfew. You don’t have to take the coronavirus pandemic as seriously as it should be taken if that’s what you so choose. But be careful what you portray to the world because those are words that can’t always be taken back. Sure, you can delete a comment on social media — but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already be seen or screenshotted or responded to.

This isn’t just me preaching either. As a person who’s typically in the public eye, I have to be incredibly careful about what I post on social media. Sometimes I’ve had a frustrating day or I don’t always agree with a certain political decision, but I can’t afford to put that out for the world to see in a way that isn’t meaningful or well-thought out.

One of the blessings of being a “public figure” or a coach is having people who look up to you. It’s a wonderful opportunity to set an example for someone who may need it more than you think, but it also comes with a world of responsibility. Don’t take that lightly.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc. 

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