Socializing the Sports World


First looking at this prompt, I knew that there were a lot of different directions in which I could take this blog. I debated looking at the role that social media played in the Obama-Romney election, but decided that I wanted to look into something that is even more current and still changing: social media in professional sports. Though not all that noticeable to some, social media has played an increasingly important role in the world of professional sports for both the franchises themselves and the fans. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a professional team that does not operate its own Facebook page and Twitter account and now the leagues are continuously adopting new ways to incorporate social media into its day-to-day operations.

Dunk

For the dominant sports such as Football, Baseball, and Basketball, social media presents an easy and effective way to keep fans engaged and invested in the sports. For example, the NBA (National Basketball Association) has greatly expanded the role that social media plays in the sport. Most notably, the league implemented dramatic changes to the way it ran its All-Star weekend in 2012 when it used social media to give the fans a much greater role in the action. Whereas the winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Competition was previously decided by a panel of preselected judges, the league instead chose to allow its fans to tweet and text message their own votes to them in order to decide the winner. Likewise, the NFL expanded the role of social media in its own all-star game (The Pro Bowl) this year by allowing, and encouraging, player to send periodic tweets during the game to attract more attention to the game. In the end, both of these moves marked significant shifts in league policies that clearly reflect the rise of social media in our modern society. In both cases, these All-Star games were experiencing diminished viewership as of late and the change added an extra level of excitement to the game which acted as incentivize for fans to become more invested.

Then, for the less attractive sports such as Lacrosse, professional teams and athletes have employed social media tactics to draw much needed attention to the sport. One notable example of this can be seen through a very interesting and unconventional move made by the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League in 2012. Prior to one of their games, the Wings decided to provide all of its players with Twitter accounts and then post these Twitter handles on the back of each player’s jersey in the place of their actual names. The move drew a great attention from across the country as the number of people following the team on twitter spiked to over 2,000 following the game.

Wings

At the same time that social media has brought about positive changes in professional sports, it has also lead to censorship problems for some athletes and teams. As Twitter accounts have become the norm for professional athletes everywhere, teams have relinquished a lot of control over what athletes can say to the general public. Fans and other athletes are constantly talking over twitter about recent happenings and often it leads to questionable and heated responses which athletes cannot take back. One notorious example was when Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted about another quarterback in the league that he ‘would smash his face in’. Many other examples exist of the same or worse magnitude, all showing how social media is changing the level of exposure that professionals have in our modern world. All teams and leagues have instituted policies about what athletes can and cannot say over these public media venues, but there is only so much that they can do to control what happens in the heat of the moment.

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8 comments on “Socializing the Sports World

  1. As a sports fan, I feel as twitter is ruining the aura of the mysterious athlete. Growing up I had these outlandish images of professional basketball and football players as super humans with no faults. Twitter has brought them close enough to the public that their faults are illuminated and highly criticized by those who used to look up to them. The interconnectedness that social media gives us is slowly taking away the imagination of younger generation since most of the facts are laid out on their computer screen.

    • This is too true. As a kid and even now, I like to look up to my favorite athletes as more than human, as even perfect superheroes. Being able to read into all of their thoughts and daily actions as humanized them in a way that I really do not enjoy.

    • I completely agree. It makes athletes and other celebrities regular humans. Some essentially live tweet their whole day. It’s getting kind of ridiculous. It also ruins athletes images as role models especially when they tweet some really stupid stuff.

  2. One thing that I have always found interesting is that the leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA) somehow reserve the right to penalize the players for what they tweet. I understand that the players are employees of the league, but there have been occasions where I think that players have been unjustly fined.

  3. LOL. Are those three still the dominant ones? So much so that they can Change The Rules of Capitalization in english?

    Seriously though, are they? Just wondering if golf, tennis, soccer, racing, mixed martial arts or other sports approach them in revenue, fans, or anything.

  4. I recall helmet cams and such a few years ago…

    Do we have live tweeting by athletes in the games yet? I mean, NFL players and baseball players especially have long stretches in the games when they have free hands. Should the punter also be the social media liaison? Does right field get boring?

    Add some voice recognition technology and you don’t even need to text.

    Put a helmet cam on every player and hook them to live feeds and you could have someone watching the game from 22 simultaneous perspectives!

    Closer to my sports heart…. can we use a technology to clear up the ambiguities around the offside rule in soccer? I am not a purist. I would rather see more breakaways and 5-3 games versus 1-0 games and it seems possible if the offside rule was more about preventing cherry picking and less about razor thin judgments by a linesman about where the attacking player is.

  5. I also find that social media has given fans much more access to what is going on with their favorite sports teams and athletes. As a sports fan, I am able to find out about scores, trades, etc. as soon as possible through social media sites such as twitter. I definitely enjoy the fact that I have timely access to sports news. On the other hand, I dislike that particular athletes don’t pay close enough attention to what they are putting on twitter. The spotlight is on them because there have so many people following them including kids who look up to them. It’s very unprofessional for them to tweet some of the things that they do.

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