ESPN on SM2 and its Training

June 18, 2015

St. Louis Rams enlist help for social media training

EARTH CITY, Mo. — The idea of social media training for professional athletes isn’t a new one. The emergence of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook have made such training almost a prerequisite at every level of athletics.

But the St. Louis Rams are taking things a step further in their efforts to educate players about the potential of 140-character pitfalls. The Rams have enlisted the help of newly-launched Social Media Sports Management to help in the cause.

The new company, which aims to help athletes use social media without falling into some of its many traps, includes a staff that has some direct ties to the Rams. Namely, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, who appears in a public service announcement related to the start of the company. Former Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon is also on the staff.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday that the organization currently employs someone devoted to monitoring the players and staff on social media but the various sites have reached a point where it deserves attention of its own.

“Throughout camp we have a number of presentations for the players,” Fisher said. “We’ll have a media presentation, a security presentation, and so it’s part of what we do. We feel like social media is becoming a little separate than the media presentation. And it requires its own focus. We’ve got a good group in here to talk to them about the appropriate and inappropriate things that take place while you use social media.”

Social Media Sports Management plans to offer an hour-long session on helping players take a moment to think about what they’re about to publish on Twitter, Facebook and the like. The campaign is called “Don’t Be That Guy.” In other words, don’t be the one drawing attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons.

For the most part, the Rams have a group that isn’t overly active on social media and defensive end Chris Long remains one of the best and most irreverent follows on Twitter. But there have been some bumps along the way.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins drew attention earlier this year when he tweeted reaction to the announcement of a proposed open-air stadium on St. Louis’ north riverfront and then again when a guilty verdict was rendered against former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez. Receiver Kenny Britt raised some eyebrows in 2014 with a racy and explicit post on Instagram.

Fisher said Tuesday the social media training isn’t geared toward any one player but toward the group as a whole.

“We are monitoring it,” Fisher said. “I just don’t want to have to make that midnight phone call where you have to say ‘take it down.’”

Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer