As of midnight last night, when the calendar flipped from late-July to early-August, an NCAA rule change came into effect that allows college coaches to like, retweet or otherwise acknowledge a high school prospect’s social media activity so long as they aren’t commenting or replying on the post.
Before August 1st, coaches weren’t allowed to have public interaction with those players on social media before they were signed to a Letter of Intent. The reason for the change is that the NCAA believes that it reinforces good social media decorum and all that mumbo jumbo, but it also — and here’s the important part — provides a confirmation of that school’s recruitment.
So you know what this is going to lead to, right?
Let’s put it like this: I’m 31 years old. I’m supposed to be older than the millennial generation, someone who is somewhat immune to the powers that lie within the hearts of social media. I’m also on instagram, and if you go back and look through the last year of posts from that account, you’ll see roughly 95% of them are pictures of my son.
Part of that is that he is super-adorable and you better believe I love showing off just how super-adorable my kid is.
But the other part of it is that I get two or three times as many likes on a picture of my kid as I would on any other picture. When Chase isn’t part of a photo on instagram, I’ll struggle to get enough likes that the number of likes listed instead of the handles of the people that liked the photo, and I know I’m not the only one that will refresh my likes column and add that 11th like on my own if it’s not getting there.
I say all that to say this: I’m 31 years old! I didn’t get on instagram until I was 29. The kids that are heading into their junior and senior years in high school have likely been on it for nearly a quarter of their lives. If I’m this influenced by who is liking my pictures and when they’re doing so, I can imagine how some high school kids feel about it.
Which is why this is significant for college coaches.
Because we can all see where this is probably headed.
If the kids they’re recruiting value attention on social media, then coaches are going to have to give them attention on social media.
And speaking as someone that is far more addicted to twitter than I’m comfortable admitting, that’s going to make it even more difficult to separate from their iPhone.