Times are changing, athletes use social networking

By Diana Campeggio
February 2, 2011

Social networking sites have become a Mecca of information for sports fans and bloggers alike.

As we enter into 2011, social networking sites have become one of the most accessible ways for the public to gain information about their favorite teams and athletes.

“Athletes tend to share their thoughts on sports events that they are preparing for, just participating in, or sporting events they are viewing that do not include them,” Timothy Miller, sports blogger for From the Stands Media, said in a recent email interview.

The motives behind athletes using Twitter and other social networking sites are vast but some major trends are apparent.

Twitter, as well as other social networking sites, has become a communication port between the athlete and their fans and followers and many athletes spend a few minutes each day responding to their fans.

“While some players use Twitter mainly to promote themselves and state what’s on their mind,” Bob Quaintance, a sports blogger from Bleeding Green Nation, said, “others, like Michael Vick and Brent Celek, do a fantastic job of connecting with their fans.”

Philadelphia’s own Michael Vick, have been known to tweet what bar or restaurant they plan to attend, encouraging followers to join him for a drink.  According to Quaintance, in 2010 Brent Celek ran a Twitter contest where he selected several fans to join his fantast football team, as well as used a Facebook fan page to give away signed Eagles memorabilia.

“Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a huge advocate of this.  Others, such as Chad Johnson-Ochocinco, seem to want to garner attention to themselves,” Miller said.

Social networking has also constructed a platform for athletes to promote themselves and their team.  Twitter and Facebook fan pages have become marketing tools for athletes.  According to Miller, anything can be promoted through Twitter and Facebook, from products and media events to personal appearances.

Just as Twitter offers an outlet for television personalities to tweet about whatever is on their mind, it often does the same for athletes.  Instead of waiting for an interviewer to ask the right questions, Twitter has created a medium where athletes can publicly speak about whatever they want.

“It’s their own voice,” Brian Beacham, sports information director at Cabrini, said.

According to Beacham, athletes with their own, uncensored and public voice on “Twitter must make media relations offices cringe.”

Athletes have been known to communicate with other athletes, as well as trash talk them.

“Twitter is a platform for them to talk about whatever they want,” Beacham said.

But there are positives and negatives to having your voice so public.

“In an informal atmosphere like the internet, athletes who are a little too free with expressing their not-so-kosher opinions can find themselves as the center of the NFL’s latest mini-scandal,” Quaintance said.

According to Quaintance, the 2009 loss of the Kansas City Chiefs to the San Diego Chargers lead to then-running back Larry Johnson using his Twitter account “to unleash a slew of angry tweets, including a gay slur, to head coach Todd Haley and a few of his own followers,” Quaintance said.

In the end, Johnson was suspended by the team.

Twitter offers the public an instant way to gather sports news whenever and wherever they want.  In a world of Wi-Fi and iPhones, Twitter and sports blogs can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

According to Beacham, the instantaneous factor of accessing sports news through social media is key.

“It’s having news at your fingertips whenever you want it,” Beacham said.

In years past, the goal of a reporter was to bring the fans onto the playing field and into the locker rooms after the game.  Twitter has changed all that.

“Fans are now in the living room with these athletes,” Beacham said.

Following athletes or sports commentators on any social networking site also offers a variety of different opinions on sports matters.

“Different opinions allow those readers to develop their own perspectives on that post,” Miller said.  “Opinions not only from the writer or quotes from an athlete but by fellow bloggers and other readers that comment of those stories.”

Twitter has also changed the way that sports bloggers gain their information. Social networking sites offer a collection of information that is frequent and opinionated.

“With more athletes and NFL associates joining Twitter every day, writers are able to use the microblogging site almost as an automatic story lead generator,” Quaintance said.

According to Quaintance, Twitter has also become a great promotional tool for bloggers to get their voice heard and encourage readers to their blog.

Though Twitter has provided yet another outlet for bloggers to gain quotes and learn breaking sports news first, to Miller, nothing is better than the traditional interview.

“I can not always build a story from a single tweet, but I can definitely get material to add to a story from that,” Miller said.

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Diana Campeggio

1 thought on “Times are changing, athletes use social networking”

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