NCAA suspends football player for retweet

The NCAA has suspended Lehigh University’s Ryan Spadola for one game in the FCS playoffs for retweeting a tweet that contained offensive language and a racial slur.

Add this incident to another long line of regrettable things that have been said on social media by students, kids, athletes, children, angry adults, etc. I think a lot of kids and college students haven’t fully grasped yet the open nature of social media. Twitter isn’t the same as sending a text message to a friend or anonymously making comments on a message board.

What you say on the Internet can stay with you for a long, long time. Students shouldn’t make public comments on the Internet — even if only a few people will see it at the time –that they may one day regret.

I’m amazed at how many people say and do stupid things while on Facebook and Twitter. It’s as if they don’t understand the public nature of what they’re doing (and how good Google’s search algorithms are. With Facebook being used for commenting on many blogs and websites, I’m even seeing people leave the same terrible comments that we saw for years on news stories but this time with their real names attached.

It’s interesting to me that the NCAA is suspending athletes for what they say on the Internet. In this case, a student was suspended for retweeting what someone else said. It wasn’t even clear if the retweet was an agreement or not with the original tweet, and this isn’t exactly the most offensive thing I have seen on social media.

But Spadola was suspended. Should the NCAA be involved in these issues? Are there more appropriate ways to address issues like these from college students?

Such are the perils of retweeting. I, and many others, still maintain that retweets are not endorsements. I regularly retweet things that are interesting. Sometimes I’m even playing devils’ advocate.

Update: Many of you are wondering what the offending tweet is. I didn’t put it in the original story because I can’t confirm 100 percent what was said. The tweet was deleted, other media outlets don’t have the exact words either and neither Lehigh, nor the NCAA specified what was said. I’ve heard from multiple people and sources that this is what was said (warning: strong and offensive language).