Coach says Manti Te'o story a lesson for all athletes

AP Photo
AP Photo

New Orleans, LA - Just ten years ago, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn't exist.  Longtime football coach J.T. Curtis never thought social media would be a part of his athletic program.

"I would like them not to have it period if I could but the reality of it is, it's here," he says. "So we have to really work hard and try to educate them on how to use it."

Curtis says lesson number one may now be: Don't let what happened to Manti Te'o happen to you.

The Notre Dame linebacker says he was the victim of a cruel hoax, his much talked about girlfriend never existed.

Curtis thinks Te'o's reputation may be tarnished temporarily just as he's preparing to enter the NFL draft.

"I think it will create some doubt at least for a period of time until he's able to put this behind him," he says. "He can do that with his play. The NFL forgives you quickly if you go there and perform."

But the incident exposes a possible flaw in the All-American player and Curtis says he may need the help of a counselor or mentor to prove he can handle the pressures of the professional level.

Mark Poepsel is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Loyola University.

He researches social media and says there's definitely a limit to what you should share with people you've never met.

"I think people need to be careful what they share online because although you can't be physically hurt by somebody exchanging tweets or texts, it can still really ruin your life," he says. "It can still really break your heart."

Curtis says what you share could impact your career, something one high school player recently learned.

"Had a head coach tell me just the other day that they decided to back off a kid because of the things he was saying on his Twitter account," he says.

While the performance on the field will always be most important at John Curtis High School, what happens off the field and on the Internet are now a big part of the game.