Are Clemson and Florida State’s Social Media Bans Justified?

As is so often the case in our hyper-reactionary society, the Internet was abuzz this weekend after receiving word that Clemson football players are “banned” from using social media during the season. Many have railed against Dabo Swinney and his staff for the choice, even claiming the coach is violating the rights of his players by clamping down on their freedom of expression just to win some football games.

These viewpoints conveniently ignore the fact that the media bans are self-imposed by the players and they seem on board despite Darren Rovell’s cynicism. Clemson receiver Artavis Scott told Aaron Brenner of the Charleston Post-Courier:

“To be honest, I feel like we like it. We don’t have to hear all that foolishness, people talking about how we’re this or we’re that.”

Twitter — and the Internet as a whole — is a considerable distraction to anyone attempting to play football or study for class or do their job. I mean, how many of you are reading this article at work?

Twitter in particular has become a very strange place for players to interact with fans. Not a day goes by that I don’t see cringeworthy behavior from fans directed at prospective high school recruits or unwarranted vitriol spewed at some poor kid who missed a field goal or dropped a pass.

It’s perfectly reasonable to want to avoid that kind of an environment while also preventing an ill-advised tweet that can quickly spiral out of control. We all remember Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones making a tweet about being in college for football and not, “to play school.” A couple years later he seems to have matured into a levelheaded young guy who thinks before he tweets. In fact, he recently took a social media break to focus on fall camp.



Knowing when to step away can be a tough lesson to learn and many don’t get a chance to redeem themselves in the same way before the collective pitchforks of the Internet come to exact revenge. One dumb or misperceived statement can quite literally ruin your life. It’s hard to claim it’s unwise to limit the exposure of emotionally immature college football players on social media knowing the criticism they’ll receive coupled with the ups-and-downs of becoming an adult.

As for those concerned with the alleged rights of the players, it’s not really that different from having a job. I don’t mean to get into treatment of student-athletes as employees right now, I simply mean the disciplinary structure is the same. If you work at a sprocket company, you’re expected to adhere to company policies so that your behavior reflects positively on the company and its sprockets. If they say, “no social media at work,” but you use it anyway then it’s reasonable to assume you’ll face a reprimand.

The only difference here as I see it is that the players themselves volunteered to put the policy in place and have embraced it.

As for my initial point about living in a hyper-reactionary society heavily accentuated by social media, many angry tweets and articles conveniently missed or actively ignored the fact that Florida State has had a similar player-enforced policy in place and has for some time.

ESPN writer Matt Fortuna recently wrote on the matter, “Social media is a tool, and like most tools, it can be used a right way and a wrong way.”

Sometimes, it’s best to leave the toolbox closed for a while.


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