No sex, no drugs New Zealand athletes told

WELLINGTON – Kiwi athletes have been reminded to “respect the black singlet” when they use social media.

And athletes are increasingly appreciating a positive online presence is a key to potential sponsorship and employment after sport.

Obligations listed in Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games athlete and support staff agreements include they “not present yourself in any way on social media that brings into question the high performance attitude of you or the Team.”

This includes… posting offensive or inappropriate material on social media.

Examples given included “photos, videos, comments or posts showing the personal use of alcohol or drugs; photos, videos, posts or comments that are of a sexual nature; pictures, videos, comments or posts that condone excessive alcohol use and other inappropriate activities”.

New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) social media guidelines spell out how important it is to “respect the black singlet”.

“Respecting the high performance culture of the New Zealand Team is just as important in the online world, as it is day to day during competition,” the guidelines said.

“Before putting anything online, think of whether it will detract from the wider team’s high performance focus or your role as a high performance athlete.”

An NZOC spokesperson said: “All team members (athletes and support staff) sign the team agreements and they are reminded of these obligations at athlete and support staff workshops, in written communications and at an induction briefing at games time.”

NZOC digital manager Alex Spence said it was “extremely important for us that the athletes are aware that there are social media guidelines and policies in place”.

But an emphasis was on education.

Workshops were held where athletes were reminded of the importance of respect and responsibility in their postings, “but also around how to develop their brand in a positive way”.

“We often do one-on-one sessions with the athletes,” Spence said.

They had also engaged Facebook to offer expert instruction on social media.

Athletes were becoming increasingly aware of the influence of a positive social media presence.

“When social media first started people used it more from a personal point of view,” Spence said.

“Now athletes were also using it ‘from a brand point of view,’

“That’s their main way to communicate their brand values and their personal characteristics that actually help drive sponsorship.”

The NZ Olympic Team’s Facebook page has around 300,000 followers. Combined with individual athletes’ followers, the social media reach during the Commonwealth Games, from April 4-15, is expected to get into the millions.

Meanwhile, commitment to athletes’ welfare has been stressed.Asked in light of #MeToo about policies regarding sexual relations between team members or with support staff, an NZOC spokesperson said:”The objective is to create an environment that, among other things, is safe and secure and without harassment, bullying or abuse of any kind. This includes sexual harassment or abuse.

“We don’t regulate who has ‘sexual relations’ with whom, and the New Zealand and Australian laws apply to all team members and support staff,” the spokesperson said.

“There are 251 athletes in the New Zealand team. The vast majority of the athletes are aged in their twenties.

“At this stage there are 7 athletes aged between 15 and 17.”

Kereyn Smith, CEO New Zealand Olympic Committee, said: “The New Zealand Olympic Committee is committed creating and supporting a strong and positive team culture at Olympic and Commonwealth Games.”