Sunday, January 22, 2012

Twitter Takes the Cake

Sports have changed forever. No, it was not the NFL lockout, the Boston Redsox breaking their 84-year World Series drought, Brett Favre retiring, or even that the Detroit Lions making the playoffs for the first time since 1995 that changed sports. It was a modest invention in 2006 that has changed the direction of sports for good. That invention is known best as Twitter.

Before the invention of Twitter, athletes had no feasible way of reaching directly out to and interacting with their ever-growing fan bases. Then one day it became all too easy send 144 characters worth of personal sentiments to a favorite athlete. Fans and the media alike swarmed to this new medium, looking for greater access to their favorite players.

One of the greatest changes to sports is the way sports reporting is handled. Before the days of Twitter, journalists had to go through the team to get to a player. Scripted, monotonous and often boring press conferences were the only real way of gaining insight into how a player felt or thought during the game. The answers became predictable and if you listened to enough press conferences, you came to understand that there was a strict code on what should and should not be said in the media.

Twitter has revolutionized this process though. Athletes can speak freely, whether it is articulate or not. The problem becomes when athletes speak their minds without thinking of the consequences first. Almost daily, Sportscenter utilizes the biggest, most unscripted press conference to get juicy tidbits to fill airtime. Instead of using statements issued by the team, they go straight for athlete Twitter accounts to get the latest juicy developments or find an interesting take on a breaking topic, just ask Matt Hasselbeck.

What goes unsaid though is that no matter how great the ability to interact with athletes and see what they are thinking may be it also is very dangerous territory. Sometimes players go a little too far and they get into deep trouble. It is a trend that, while fun for fans, needs to be controlled before too many athletes reveal things that should not be public.


  1. Athletes on twitter has become a huge change to the sports world, good and bad. As an avid NY fan I follow just about all players from the Yankees, Rangers, and Giants that have a twitter. Some of my favorite follows include; Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck of the NY Giants, Nick Swisher and Mark Texiera of the NY Yankees, and Marion Gaborik and Brandon Prust from the NY Rangers. Besides just players tweeting you will notice a big spike in tweeting from fans during games. As an outside observer a big one was the twitter war between the Penguins fans and Flyers fans during their playoff series. I know personally I tweet quite often during the Rangers playoff games and Giants. It is also great when you see players from other sports tweeting in support of other teams from their city! Justin Tuck is a huge NY Rangers supporter!

  2. I think one of the ways that social media has changed the world of sports the most is how "real" the athletes become. Back in the day we only got to know athletes via interviews (tv, radio, written) and all of those could be edited or just did not always show who the real athlete was. Sites like Twitter and Facebook give these athletes a new freedom and a new voice. We can get to know them better, for better or worse. Sometimes this is bad because we learn that an athlete that we look up to is actually a dumb, insensitive, woman hating person (or something else) and you no longer like them when they aren't playing on the field/court. But it also works well sometimes because we can learn to respect different players that maybe don't get a lot of spotlight, or find a new role model based on who the player is off the field.

  3. I think social media is a great way for athletes to interact with their followers and fans, but it can also be negative in the fact that many athletes do not know how to sue social media properly. I really liked the link you posted at the end of this blog post because it really shows how harmful Twitter can be for athletes whether they are college or professional athletes. The article provided a great list of athletes that have been recently getting into trouble due to Twitter and I think it is important for athletes to be trained when using their Twitter accounts. However, I do agree with you that it is definitely a great way to interact and engage fans. Twitter provides conversations among athletes on a much more personal level that we did not used to have.

  4. I’ve seen tweets from athletes that were interesting, witty, and those that are just plain stupid. It is truly incredible how quickly athletes can reach out to their fans with moment to moment updates on what they are doing whether those acts are interesting or not. What is even more exciting for sports fans is that some of these athletes can actually send tweets out during a game. This really brings the fans and the athletes closer together and makes it easy for an athlete to forge better relationships with his or her fan base.