One of the most anticipated and distinctive features separating the Beijing Olympics from the London Olympics is the explosion in the world of Social media. In fact, news has already labeled the London Olympics as the first Social games. And they are not wrong in saying so.
Times have really changed now, and it’s no longer just about the live soccer updates or any other sporting news. It’s all about a well-framed syndication of social media and sports bridging a two-way dialogue between the social media tools available and the sports fans.
With the latest apps and gadgets now in the hands of the social media buff, whether a team wins or loses a match, all of the happening is witnessed on the screen of a mobile device, making sports fans addicted to social media with a chance to be closer to their idols. More and more people are subscribing to RSS feeds, sending instant replies thru tweets and all the sports titans have raised their own virtual army of followers, fans, members and viewers.
Check some of the sport lords with iconic fan following or social media clout:
Here are a few examples of when social media is embraced and disowned in sports.
Meet Giavanni Ruffin (@Giavanni_Ruffin) and Eric Thomas (@Ericthomasbtc), heroes of the #HowBadDoYouWantIt series. My personal favorites in the GR series are How Badly Do You Want It: (Part1) and How Badly Do You Want It (Part2). Giavanni Ruffin (now an athlete) and Eric Thomas (motivational speaker) of “How Bad Do You Want It” produced by Greyskale.
Times have changed since the start of the video blog series by Ruffin, he has grown as an athlete, business man and a person. Ruffin has worked his way into the spotlight of many NFL and CFL teams and has chosen to start his career with the CFL. Ruffin’s iconic social media popularity is due to his never die attitude and #TNDO lifestyle (Take No Days Off) keeping him grinding to work and reach his goal of making it to the CFL. Thanks to social media, he gained iconic popularity among his fans who cheered him along the way to enter CFL and launch a TNDO apparel range. Sweet!!
Meet Eric LeGrand, wheelchair-bound after being paralyzed from the neck down during a game in October 2010 when he injured his spinal cord. A year later, Sports fans witnessed his symbolic return to the field as 2011′s moment of the year, landing LeGrand on sport magazine covers. Today, LeGrand has a new role as an advocate for spinal cord research and source of inspiration for fans around the world — and he says social media plays a key part in his mission. LeGrand has nearly 60,000 followers on his Twitter account (@ericlegrand52) which he set up several months after his injury. He frequently tweets updates on his progress, motivational quotes and photos. Last July, he tweeted a photo of himself standing upright with the help of a machine rallied support. His Facebook Timeline which has about 67,000+ followers traces the narrative of his recovery as well as his life before the the injury. Get to know more stories of courage in sports by going to the Courage In Sports Facebook page.
However, not all attempts to go social land successful. Not at least for Chad Ochocinco (@OGOchoCinco) with the National Football League (NFL). Chad decided to have a fan live tweet on his Twitter account during the game. This attempt to embrace twitter during games failed in the eyes of the NFL. Was Chad smart? Well maybe, as it might have worked had he not spilled the beans on twitter, resulting in the NFL banning any individual or anyone representing a player, to use their personal Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media account during a game.
While individual players embrace social media, some leagues seem to fear social media, probably because it’s something outside of their control. I will continue exploring this topic on my next blog post where I will discuss how other leagues like the NBA, NHL and MLB embrace social media in sports.