Social media and sports

What we’ve seen the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. Teams, athletes, the media members that cover them, and the fans that follow them have fully embraced the social media revolution.

Some might say “revolution” is hyperbole but I think it’s justified due to the fact social media has completely changed how we interact. For instance, yesterday I was chatting on Facebook in real time with a friend currently in Cameroon. Just  a decade ago, this would have been unimaginable. While Facebook Chat is a derivative of AIM and G-CHAT, it’s so much more powerful because Facebook as a whole allows you to keep up with your friends’ lives without making the effort of..you know..calling or having to even write anything at all.

But Facebook and more recently Twitter have had the biggest impact in the way we follow sports. Twitter in particular has become like a big sports bar for nationally televised games. Everyone gets together online and comments on the action in real time, with their predictions usually being hilariously wrong. My favorite moment is after a big play and people issue Tweets like “WOW” and my personal favorite “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” It is rather amazing that you can sit alone in your house, watching a game, yet still be connected like never before just simply by refreshing your Twitter app on your cell phone.

It hasn’t taken long for athletes and teams to catch on. Teams smartly use social media as a way to directly connect with their fans. It’s marketing Mecca. Ticket give-aways through re-tweets, which consequently spreads their brand, is just one way they get their message across. A simpler way they connect directly with you, the consumer, is by taking a photo of the starting lineups the minute they’re posted and posting them to Twitter. In the past, you didn’t know the lineups until they were announced at the game or on the radio. Not anymore. It’s instant information in the palm of your hand.

Sports are supposed to be fun. Social Media has increased their entertainment value ten fold. Athletes joined Twitter and Facebook as a way to talk to the fans without having to answer questions from a reporter. But luckily for us, some athletes aren’t quite savvy when it comes to the power of social media yet. For instance, the Matt Hasselbeck-Antonio Cromartie dust-up was classic unintentional comedy. Media members aren’t above picking fights either. Jason Whitlock joining Twitter was probably one of the best social media occurrences ever. He is a must-follow because you never know who he’s going to call-out next.

Sports is also about debate. Before Facebook and Twitter came along, you could definitely debate sports. Talk Radio and more recently blogs, were your only forums though. The @ reply feature on Twitter has allowed for heated debates that can carry on for days. You can set up your phone for a notification that someone has replied to you. These debates often are not one-on-one, but can include tons of people. And unlike on a blog, you face the challenge of having to make your point in 140 characters or less. It’s brilliant, and makes debating so much more intriguing and entertaining.

Breaking sports news is another amazing feature of social media. If you’re a reporter you can literally break the news the instant you find out. Then you can write the article to post online. As a consumer though, you have to follow the right people because there is always the risk of erroneous reports.

The world of social media is making everyone’s sports-life better. Teams can find their target audience easier, players can skip the middle-man, reporters can break stories and promote their articles, and fans are connected to the world like never before.

It’s a crazy cyber world out there and I love it.

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