Transition Game: Are you catfishing your career?

March 11, 2013

Thanks to the popular MTV reality show and the recent saga involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, the term “catfish” no longer just applies to seafood. It now applies to individuals who use social media to pretend to be someone they’re not, often with the aim of taking advantage of someone.

It can also mean embellishing your athletic career with the help of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

You might be catfishing your career if the following sound familiar.

If you tweet: Great workout with @teammate1 @teammate2 @thispersonactuallydidnothing #nodaysoff #dedicated #hardwork

But the truth is: That workout wasn’t that great, we barely broke a sweat but we had a good time for two hours or so.

If your Instagram posts often include the following: A picture of shoes, gear, equipment, or workout space with a caption about how much you love your sport? #sports #athletes #Idoit

But the truth is: That is just a well-composed picture and you may or may not have been productive at the time – assuming you were actually there by choice.

If on the rare occasion that you decide to eat well, you jump at the opportunity to immortalize your meal via social media by craftily selecting a “Lo-Fi” filter to enhance the color of the green things on your plate. #Healthy

Can you recall the last time you missed the chance to share #GAMEDAY with the Twitter-verse?

If you can’t, beware.

You can be anything you want on Twitter, including an incredibly dedicated student-athlete – 140 characters and some snap shots can work wonders.

I am all for enthusiasm about hard work and dedication, but I’m also a huge fan of humility and really focusing on your business more than you tweet, Facebook, or post on Instagram about it. While social media presents a unique platform to shape your personal brand, it can also be a breeding ground for hypocrisy.

News Flash: It’s okay not to update the world on your every move.

Robert Price, the lead therapist and owner of Elite Minds LLC, a sports psychology service in Potomac, Md., says too much social media interaction creates unnecessary pressure.

“The whole concept, when I work with high school kids is how much access do you want people to have on you, with you, and about you?” Price said. “You’re creating a digital footprint.”

It does take away… the ability to truly focus and it adds extra pressure….If you’re putting these things out there saying… what you’re going to do, or how you’re doing it, you really do have an obligation to yourself and your followers to actually do those things.”

One of the most important factors about social media for athletes is to understand what you’re putting out there and why, Price said. If you’re already a top recruit why do you need to tweet about what’s happening on your visits?

Social media is a tool, luckily for the high school athlete it can still be fun – sort of. It’s not uncommon to be slapped with social media policies as soon as you hit a college campus.

The question of access is at the crux of the discussion. Even if all those mock tweets are legit, are they absolutely necessary all the time?

Social media grew in popularity the last two years of my playing career. I remember tweeting “game day” once when we were in South Bend to play the Notre Dame. We got crushed, on television. I swore never again. However, I wasn’t a stranger to tweets about team success, and tweets heading into the Sweet 16 my senior year come to mind.

If a coach is asked about a player you’ll never hear, “They used social media very effectively.” You’ll hear that they were a hard worker, very humble, and I’d want that kid on my team.

The social media version of “you” pales in comparison to the “you” that actually shows up. It’s up to you to make sure they match.

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Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports

Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at hss@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.

Previously:

Embracing the grind (Feb. 20)

Taking advantage of all your resources (Jan. 30)

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Eric Detweiler · March 11, 2013