Today’s technological advances in the social media world connect sport fans with their favorite athletes. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook allow fans to follow their favorite athletes, view their messages, pictures, updates and even post messages to the athletes in hopes of a response. The invisible line between sports fans and these athletes has forever been erased.
Some of the top social media accounts from athletes include: Chad OchoCinco, Dwight Howard, Lance Armstrong, LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo (http://www.tweeting-athletes.com/TopAthletes.cfm). Recently, an unlikely story of Antonio Brown befriending a Steelers’ fan emerged which developed into a chance encounter for one fan, all due to the social media connection through Twitter: (http://www.cnbc.com/id/46326110/Steelers_Antonio_Brown_Spends_Super_Bowl_Week_with _Twitter_Fan_Turned_BFF). Many athletes have big promotions and give back to their fans. Chad OchoCinco recently bought 200 fans dinner at the historic Sylvia’s in Harlem. (Side note: while on Funeral Detail to honor a fallen Soldier from the 101st in 2006, my team had dinner at Sylvia’s. She came out to meet us, thanked us for our service and provided us with a free dinner. An amazing woman and great food; recommend visiting!)
From a personal experience, Paul Maholm (Cubs starting Pitcher) tweeted he would host a trivia giveaway on 22 March 2012. Paul had mentioned the contest would include trivia questions and each winner would receive some type of prize. He further clarified the first correct answer would be decalred the winner. All the questions Paul asked pertained to his big league career and personal life, with the prizes ranging from autographs to Cubs opening day tickets. Having recently become a Twitter user, I partook in the event. The last question Paul asked was who had he [Paul] hit his only career homerun off of and where. Within seconds I answered. This is the response I received:
Granted, it’s not often that these types of encounters occur. More often than not, fans hardly receive responses from their favorite athletes. However, fans seem much more connected to their favorite stars, while also de-glamorizing athletes and bringing them to an earthly level. Social media sites make our favorite athletes seem human once again. (Results may vary…)
While each sport manages, dictates and controls athletes and the use of social media sites, some athletes have been known to post messages and/or updates during their games. Commenting on a particular play the athlete was involved in or one that happened during their event has been known to occur. These message/posts allow fans, who are unable to attend these sporting events, an inside perspective of the current events; ultimately adding a new dimension to the sports world.
But there are downsides to the social media world. Some athletes have been known to post too much, too often and too openly. This has created “drama” and criticism of some of the highly publicized athletes in today’s society. Most notably is Lebron James’ tweet of a Blake Griffin dunk: http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/lebron-james-no-apology-to-kendrick-perkins-for-tweet-about-blake-griffin-dunk-020812. Some athletes have taken heavy criticism from their public feuds with players, coaches, ownership and disgruntled thoughts of contract negotiations. These events have caused polar extremes of support or criticism from fans and media personalities.
In addition, some fans may become infuriated or discouraged with their favorite athletes for a multitude of reasons. Beliefs, opinions or views expressed by their star athletes may create indifference in personal beliefs, separating the fan from the athlete. Or more commonly, if a fan repeatedly tries to contact an athlete with no success, this may create a sort of tension from seemingly disrespect or lack of care from the athlete. Whatever the case may be, athletes must be weary of the reaction from fans and the media with the openness, or lack thereof, from their social media endeavors.
Whether you are a social media enthusiast or refuse to become part of the social media norm, the access and connection that these sites provide fans to their favorite athletes has taken the sports world to new heights; while making these multimillionaire star athletes seem human once again. I was one who refused to become attracted to the hype of the social media world, but in the past two weeks, I have never felt more connected to my favorite athletes. I encourage you to give the social media world a try. Who knows, maybe you’ll win tickets to your teams opening day. Go Cubs!
You can follow me on Twitter @helms83; always enjoy a good sports conversation!