Sports Communication Changes in Compliance to New Policy

ParentSqaure, the new communication apps to be used for easy communication between parents, students, and staff, app icon. Logo courtesy of ParentSquare INC.
ParentSqaure, the new communication apps to be used for easy communication between parents, students, and staff, app icon. Logo courtesy of ParentSquare INC.

In the beginning of the school year, a new policy was set into place to protect student athletes in terms of communication with their coaches. The State High athletic director, Chris Weakland, will be able to read all the group chats for every sport. The athletic director will have access to all messages through any platforms or apps the team uses.

The need for this policy was expressed by the president of the school board, Jackie Huff.

“We’ve run into some technical issues where we have to comply with federal laws that protect kids in terms of their use of technology and privacy in terms of technology,” Huff said. “It’s become a recent thing where we can’t use certain apps anymore that have been widely used by the athletic director.”

The main concern about this new policy is the protection of students with their privacy while using technology and how the school district can accommodate it. In addition to the technological and privacy issues, they are also requiring that any communication that happens between a coach and a team be available to the athletic director.

“It is a level of security of if the coaches are following rules regarding when they reach out to the team and what they reach out to the team about,” Huff said.

Having the athletic director on these group chats provides another level of protection to the student athletes. The athletic director can see all forms of communication and can even go back to old group chats to make sure that everything is going the way it should be. A big purpose for this new policy is to provide boundaries and to think about the student athletes.

This policy does not just impact the athletic director and student athletes, but it also impacts the coaches. The JV girls volleyball coach Audrey McDonough talks about the new policy.

“I’ve been coaching State High for about 9 years and it has evolved. When I first started coaching, I was able to text the kids. I was of the mindset to always have at least another coach or have a text string with the whole team so it wasn’t a form of communication from one coach to a player,” McDonough said. “Now, we have gone to new platforms where the athletic director can see the communications.”

This policy was made with students in mind, and  are set in place are to protect students and to give students the privacy that they deserve.

“I am on team student,” Huff said. “Anything that protects students is important to me because I want everyone to have a really good experience at SCASD. So I think these rules are well written to set up an environment where everyone can thrive and still communicate with their coach in a reasonable way.”

Student athletes should be aware of this policy because it protects them in many ways when interacting with their coaches in group chats. There are rules that coaches should know for what is and isn’t acceptable to say to students. The athletic director is present in the conversations to ensure that the rules are followed and that coaches are respecting students and their privacy.

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