Social media has changed the world that we live in so much, and has done it so fast that most of us have been too busy with our faces glued to our phone screens to really recognize its impact.
While there are some serious benefits to the way social media has evolved, it comes with some dangers as well. As coaches are learning, one of most recent pushes across athletics has been in favor of more support aimed at mental health, and a big reason for that is because the praise, and criticism aimed at every coach and player is now literally at our fingertips. We are often getting those notifications in real-time, making them really heard to ignore.
At a presser recently, Steve Sarkisian really eloquently laid out how social media has changed the landscape. Conversations that have gone from being "around the water cooler" at work, where the athletes and coaches would never hear the good or the bad, to everyone's opinion being out there for the world to see.
"The evolution of social media, all of that water cooler talk is now being directed at me, or the athlete or coach or whatever they are, so they are hearing the good and the bad much more than they ever did historically in sports."
The former USC head coach is no stranger to the pressure cooker of being a major college head coach in one of the toughest markets in college football, and before USC, Sark was the head coach at Washington.
From a student-athlete's perspective, there seems to be a handful of stories each year about social media harassment after a quarterback throws a costly interception or a kicker misses a field goal that could have won the game as time expired.
"They can't find an avenue to defend themselves in a way that feels comfortable for them, so they harbor all of these feelings and they don't know what to do with them."
"For us, in the sporting world, it has taken us some time to actually recognize that. They're dealing with much more inside than we gave them credit for because we see all the muscles, we see all the speed, we see how big, how fast, and how strong, but the heart is really about the same size, and that really hasn't changed over time."
"So I think we've got to have a better awareness on our end of really addressing it with them and understanding that whether you're a Division I football player or a high school football player or gymnast, it's a lot. There's a lot on them and we have to recognize that and make sure that we have the mechanisms in place to support them."
See Sark's full comments in the clip.