Back in the days before the Internet and social media, the ways to trash talk were pretty limited.
There might be some yapping before, during and after a football game between opponents.
In some cases the media might print some sort of disparaging comment made by a player. You know, the type of thing that becomes bulletin board material.
“You won’t believe what so-and-so said about our team,” a coach might tell his players before the game. “Let’s make him eat his words.”
These days, however, thanks to social media like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, everybody has a voice.
In advance of last year’s Munford-Covington season opener, there was some talk between some of the players on Instagram.
“We had to address it last year,” said Covington head coach J.R. Kirby. “All our kids are on it. Our kids post stuff. I try to tell them to limit it. Don’t give anybody something to use against us.”
“We’ll talk about it a little bit,” said Brighton head coach Mike David. “We try not to talk about ourselves or our opponents. That’s our message so we better not see it out there. They know that and they’re pretty good about it.”
“We’re high schoolers, we’re grown,” said Brighton senior Michael Armour. “We know what to do and what not to do. They don’t usually have to say anything about that.”
Munford head coach Nick Markle, in his own words, is an “anti-social media guy.” He does not have any social media accounts, but he has his sources who monitor what his players are doing.
“I’m not on any platform,” Markle said. “That would be a deal where it would consume me, having to watch 80 kids’ feeds. If somebody does something outlandish I’ll catch wind of it.”
He believes social media posts about your opponent can be counter productive to what his team is trying to accomplish on the field.
“It’s easy to get caught up in this back and forth crap on social media sites, trash talking,” Markle said. “We talk about focusing every day. They’ll hear me say that 500 times a day. If you let another team get in your head by talking trash on social media, we’ve already lost half the game before we get on the field.”
“There’s a time and place for that and it’s on the field,” Munford junior Hastin Dodson said. “It happens. I just try and stay out of it.”
For the most part, the football players at the three Tipton County high schools post innocuous things on social media.
If you scroll through the Twitter page of Brighton quarterback Nick Johnson (@Nick11johnson) you’ll see his highlight videos. The Twitter page of Covington running back Marcus Hayes (@marcushayes72) has videos of him lifting weights and a photo of Covington’s baseball team receiving a key to the city. Covington linebacker Caleb Winfrey (@CalebWinfrey4) has a team photo from last year’s state runnerup team on his Twitter page.
Kirby (@JRKirby1) is pretty active on Twitter. His page includes coaching advice, a video of a snake and lots of things about LSU football.
He tries to keep an eye on his players' social media activity, but it can be difficult considering there are lots of social media platforms and 65 players on his roster.
“You try to police it but you can’t police everything,” Kirby said. “Kids will be kids and they do dumb things. Every coach I talk with is dealing with it. It’s an issue. It doesn’t matter if it’s public or private schools or different demographics. We’re all dealing with it. You try and police and try to do the best you can. I’ve told them if you post it it’s out there and it’s going to get back to us. It’s one of those evils you wish would go away but it’s always going to be there.”
Said Markle: “I address it at the beginning of the season, that’s it. They do a good job for the most part. If I catch wind of it, we’re going to have a one-on-one talk. If you bring shame on this program it’s quick ticket out of this program. I can count on one hand the social media problems I’ve had.”