Thursday, June 30, 2011

No More Athlete Arrest Secrets

In Sneakers (one of my favorite foreshadowing movies), Robert Redford's computer hacker character realizes the power of the special program and chip that he has discovered that the U.S. government wants to own. It can decrypt everything, thus the tagline of the movie:

No More Secrets

In a couple of weeks, dozens of local public safety agencies will begin to deploy custom iOS apps that will take their on-line intake arrest files and make them mobile.

So what, you may say. That stuff is already on-line, and fans, friends and news media can find out about an arrest anyway.

True, but they have to go check. They have to know the athlete's full names. And they have to monitor.

The next generation of these apps will allow users to put in lists of names they want monitored. And when those names show up in the arrest intake, a notification gets pushed to the mobile app.

Now you get it? With very little effort, the entire rosters of whole athletic departments -- student-athletes, coaches, staff, etc. -- can be monitored. So that third string offensive tackle? Busted. The walk-on swimmer? Busted. There will be no such thing as "flying under the radar" or "a sport no one cares about" when arrests happen -- two very common misconceptions I've heard over the years at many athletic departments.

This is a don't blame the messenger moment -- and I might add -- a teachable one too. Along with telling students (not just student-athletes) at your fall orientations about the dangers of their social media, if your county/city/municipality has publicly published arrest intake, hold up your iPhones and remind them that the media, the fans and their parents (yes, if little Johnny has gone away to college, don't think mom and dad won't use same to know if he gets DUI'd in that far away College Town) can know immediately and easily if they get arrested.

As Cosmo (played by Ben Kingsley) says to Marty Bishop (the Redford character) at the end --

There's a war out the my friend and it isn't about who has the most bullets, it's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think, it's all about the information.

And if you haven't seen Sneakers yet, shame on you. Netflix or iTunes rent it now.

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