USA Swimming Social Media and Electronic Communications
The USA Swimming Minor Athlete Abuse Protection Policy (MAAPP) has five parts. This resource is intended to provide information regarding implementing the Social Media and Electronic Communications section of the policy.
Social Media and Electronic Communications
Private electronic communications between an Applicable Adult and a minor athlete present an opportunity for the Applicable Adult to initiate grooming behaviors that may lead to abuse. Just as one-on- one interactions between an Applicable Adult and a minor athlete must be observable and interruptible, any communications between an Applicable Adult and a minor athlete should be open, transparent. Additionally, electronic communications between an Applicable Adult and a minor athlete must involve the minor’s legal guardian and take place during reasonable hours.
Before MAAPP, USA Swimming rules required every team establish a social media/electronic communication policy. This section of MAAPP replaces that requirement. Members will note that this section of the MAAPP is similar to the USA Swimming’s previous Model Policy on Electronic Communication and published Best Practice Guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can our team still use our Electronic Communication Policy instead of this one? A: No, you cannot use the Electronic Communication Policy that you have had to this point. Every team is required to adopt this policy, including the Social Media and Electronic Communications section, in full.
Q: Are minor athletes still allowed to follow their favorite celebrity swimmer on a fan page? A: Yes, under the policy, a minor athlete can follow or friend a celebrity swimmers fan page.
Q: What do I do about my pre-existing social media connections with minor athletes? A: Applicable Adults are required to discontinue existing social media connections with minor athletes.
Q: When does a minor athlete’s legal guardian need to be copied on an electronic communication to a minor athlete? A: An Applicable Adult with authority over minor athletes must not send a one-on-one communication to a minor athlete. A minor athlete’s legal guardian must be copied on an electronic communication sent by an Applicable Adult with authority over minor athletes to the minor athlete.
Q: How should an Applicable Adult communicate with the team or a group of minor athletes? A: If an Applicable Adult sends a message to a group of minor athletes or an entire team, another adult must be copied on the communication. It is not required that each minor athlete’s legal guardian be copied on an electronic communication sent by an Applicable Adult to a group of minor athletes or an entire team.
Q: What would be an emergency circumstance? A: An emergency circumstance should be an isolated incident that is an objectively reasonable emergency in order to justify an electronic communication sent outside of 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. An example would be to notify the team that early morning practice is canceled at the last minute.
Q: Is a telephone call considered to be an electronic communication? A: A telephone call is similar to a one-on-one interaction. Therefore, a telephone call between an Applicable Adult and a minor athlete must be observable and interruptible by another adult. A duration of a telephone call made during an emergency circumstance must be consistent with the type of emergency.
Q: Can a team change the hours during which electronic communications can be sent to a time period other than 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.? A: No.
Q: Can an LSC send communications to a committee including an athlete representative outside of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.? A: No. LSC staff and board members are Applicable Adults with authority over minor athletes. Electronic communications sent to minor athletes must only be sent between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
UPDATED QUESTIONS (June 13, 2019)
Q: Can an LSC or USA Swimming committee with minor athlete representatives conduct a telephone or video conference meeting after 8:00p.m.? A: Yes. If a committee is unable to hold their meeting before 8:00 p.m., then the committee can conduct the meeting after 8:00 p.m. Electronic distribution of meeting materials should not be sent between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
Q: If an athlete member turns 18 years old and becomes an Applicable Adult, can that athlete member still communicate with minor athlete friends and teammates through social media and electronic communication? A: Yes. If that adult athlete does not have “authority over” (e.g., a power imbalance does not exist) the minor athletes, then this provision of the policy does not apply.