UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois introduced the #FaceMasks4FallSports hashtag last Saturday, hoping to create more awareness about safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
More than a week later, people are still talking. Er, tweeting.
Reed-Francois’ hashtag continued to circulate through Twitter as of Saturday morning — with other programs, athletic directors and coaches tweeting photos and videos that promote the use of masks to slow the virus’ spread.
More than 6.2 million Twitter handles had engaged with the hashtag through Friday, according to Rite Tag, a website that tracks and logs hashtag data. Notable accounts to promote the hashtag include the Raiders (1.6 million followers), North Carolina’s men’s basketball program (963,000 followers), Texas Christian’s football program (180,000 followers) and Virginia Tech’s football program (180,000 followers).
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) July 3, 2020
“I’m appreciative and humbled,” she said. “I can’t say I forecasted this where Roy Williams or other coaches have tweeted this out, but I’m very grateful.”
Reed-Francois said the hashtag was inspired by her son, Jackson, who asked her last weekend if the Rebels will be playing football this fall. She noted that it will depend on the severity of the virus. She proceeded to don a mask and tweet a selfie in front of Allegiant Stadium, thereby introducing the hashtag.
— DR_Francois (@DRFrancois1) June 27, 2020
Reed-Francois followed by asking UNLV athletic personnel to help share the message with their friends and former colleagues at universities across the country.
“Many have much broader platforms, and they amplified the message,” Reed-Francois said. “Quite simply, we’re competitors on the field or on the court or in the water, but we’re all educators who want to provide for our student-athletes.”
More than 37,000 Twitter handles are seeing the hashtag every hour, according to Rite Tag. Tweets featuring the hashtag are garnering 30 retweets per hour.
Reed-Francois hopes the hashtag continues to build additional awareness throughout July as the school year approaches.
“It’s a critically important time. We all know that. We recognize it,” she said. “That’s why we continue to amplify the message.”