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Social Media And Sport

January 27th, 2010

Social Networking is, as Charlene Li says ‘Like Air‘ – ubiquitous and everywhere.  We are in a culture where every demographic on the planet is involved in some capacity or another.  Some of the most visible?  Athletes – especially professional athletes.  Social Media is a way for the athlete to share a little bit of their ‘off court’ or ‘off field’ persona with those that support them most – their fans.  From a fan’s perspective, this is an amazing peek into the everyday lives of their sports heroes.  Is it always good for the athlete? No.

In many case – Lance Armstrong, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tony Hawk – their use of social media is positive and often used to make the world a little bit better (Lance promoting Cancer awareness and Shaq using his influence/large following to secure financial relief for disaster victims.  I have a lot of respect for these guys as athletes, and even more as humans… they use their widespread influence for good – how can you not be impressed?

Then, comes the flip side.  Using social media to make a complete mockery of themselves. Case in point… this week, Portland’s own Greg Oden.  There are multiple incidents that are embarrassing for athletes that have a very public persona – and some of the ramifications are career threatening, in the case of Gilbert Arenas.  In many cases, it is simply kids making a mistake that is extraordinarily public (Brandon Jennings on Twitter and Video). Remember, these athletes are often times not even of drinking age but making millions of dollars…with plenty of free time on their hands. You know what they say about idle hands…

From my perspective, the moral here for professional athletes to take care with their use of Social Media. You have an incredible opportunity to extend your influence for good and to give the people that ultimately pay your salary (the fans) the ability to take a peek into your ‘off field’ persona.  Be careful of what you ‘Tweet’ – it could come back to bite you

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