The social media has evolved quite drastically over the past few decades and there is no doubt that it has had a great impact on peoples lives. It can be a catalyst for success whereby it can empower people as well as fuel new ideas. There are various good and bad things that have been associated with the media given that everything has advantages and disadvantages. The social media influences almost every aspects of peoples lives starting from business world, home life, relationships, to education, and the world of sports. There are various online social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and WhatsApp just to mention a few. All of these have had a great impact on the life of athletes. Almost every sports team, league, and even sports association have a social media profile on one or more online social networking service like the Twitter. It doesnt matter whether the athletes are professional, minors, high school athletes or even retired athletes. All of them are using the social media.
To start with, the social media has been very helpful to the athletes because it has given them a direct and public line of communication to all the fans from all over the world. Athletes can use the social media for the purpose of communication what they want to the public. Today journalists do not have to break news about athletes because even before they do it, the new are already with the members of the public because athletes break it themselves. Some of the athletes are using the social media to engage with the fans in a positive. Members of the public have those athletes that they love and they want keep posted about whats going on in their lives. The social media is the best place for fans to follow up with the activities of their favorite athletes. Fans feel that they have a kind of connection with their favorite athlete. When the social media provides an authentic image of the athlete with which fans can identify connect with, the loyalty of the fans continue to become strong (Hajli 352). For example, just a simple tweet from an athlete apologizing for his or her inability to sign all autographs during game activities can serve to change the annoying attitudes that parents and children might have been feeling for that athlete. Through that, the fans feel that they can continue to support the athlete in every endeavor he or she decides to take.
In addition, the social media have greatly impacted positively on the lives of the athletes especially when it comes to Brand promotion. Athletes who have large number of fans following them in the social media have a chance of being chose by the most famous brands for the purpose of promotions (Soderman and Dolles 183). These are great opportunities when it comes to the athletes because they are able to make good money. Brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Adidas, and other famous and big brands use some of the famous athletes who have a large audience of fans to promote their products. This because these brands know perfectly well that their products will gain access to a large audience because of associating the product with a favorite athlete. Therefore, smart brands can associate with famous athletes in order to make a social media recall of their brand. The athlete will gain more fame and a higher economic status, while at the same time gaining a larger audience. By promoting the brands, an athlete will continue to connect more with more and more fans and establishing long-term interactive relationship between them and their fans.
Sport has become a platform through which all kinds of barriers are broken. It breaks down all walls that prevent people from being united. The social media has enhanced the connection between athletes and their fans. Several decades ago, this kind of connection was minimal but today, fans and athletes alike feel that they are connected with real people. Through the social media, athletes can serve to unite people in a nation and the world by sending important messages across to fans. Even during times of crisis fans feel that they have people who care for the, somewhere. Athletes can use the social media to address serious issues that are affecting people around the world like climate change, civil wars, and other serious issues. They can preach peace around their world by just a simple tween or a Facebook message (Sheehan & Quinn-Allan 63). When fans know about the activities of their favorite athletes like the donations they make at charities, they feel that there are people somewhere who are trying to make a difference to the world. Athletes through the social media can use sport for the purpose of regenerating the body, mind, spirit, and nature. Through sport and the social media, athletes hold more power to influence people even more than politics or business. High profile professional athletes have the power to be great models or even ambassadors by creating important debates to change the attitudes and even lifestyles of people in order to make great positive changes in the lives of the fans.
On the other hand, the social media can impact negatively on the lives of the athletes. This is especially because even news that are intended to be personal are brought forward to the eyes and ears of the public. This can serve to tarnish the good image of the athlete. The social media has reported a lot of time stories whereby some famous athletes are associated with sexual assaults, physical assault, driving while drinking, using illegal drugs, as well as other criminal activities. In addition, the private lives of the athletes are laid bare in public and this is very dangerous as it can ruin the personal relationships that an athlete has with other people (Pedersen 214). There are people who are media shy and they would never want to be associated with some athletes because of the media light. Even an athlete is going through a divorce the members of the public will be on the top list among people who have that kind of knowledge. Every single aspect of an athletes life is being tracked by the social media. It is even easy for one to know when an athlete coughs! The social media life has created a lot of myths concerning the athletes. Various research studies report that members of public have come to associate athletes with such behavior aggressiveness both in sexual and physical way. This is through the constant negative behaviors that are reported about athletes.
Another way through which the social media can impact negatively on the life of an athlete is that it can lead to poor athlete performance. As usual, many famous or talented athletes are targets of social media prey. Only mediocre people are capable of playing it safe in order to avoid criticism. However, champions who are interested on excelling in whatever they are doing take risks of criticism each and every day. When athletes win in games there is a lot of praise and criticism as well. When they lose more criticism follow. Some of these criticism in the social media can leave an athlete feeling demoralized (Russell 45). Athletes will in most cases receive a lot of attention from gossips on the social media, from the way they play and perform, what they wear, the kind of relationships they are in, as well as any other things involving their lives. Because of the intense expectations that fans show towards the winning of the athletes, the athletes might feel compelled to do some negative things in order to please their fans. Some of them will go to an extent of using steroids which might not only affect their normal performance but also ruin their career.
In conclusion, the social media has both positive and negative effects on the life of athletes. It can serve the purpose of creating real connections between athletes and their fans. Athletes will feel more motivated to perform well and the fans will feel that their favorite athlete is making effort to recognize and appreciate them. The social media can also be used by athletes to influence people in a positive way on important issues concerning the society like how practice lifestyles that are environmentally friendly. They can also preach peace through the social media. On top of that, athletes with a large number of fans following him or her might get an opportunity to market some of the products from big and famous brands. However, the social media use by athletes does not come without its negatives. All aspects of an athletes life can be laid bare to the public making privacy of the athlete to mean less. The social media can also serve to tarnish the name of an athlete. Finally, the social media can impact negatively on the performance of an athlete due to negative criticism and pressure from fans to see the athlete perform well each time.
Hajli, Nick. Handbook of Research on Integrating Social Media into Strategic Marketing. , 2015. Internet resource.
Pedersen, Paul. Routledge Handbook of Sport Communication. Routledge, 2013. Internet resource.
Russell, Gordon W. The Social Psychology of Sport. New York, NY: Springer New York, 1993. Internet resource.
Sheehan, Mark. & Quinn-Allan, Deirdre. Crisis Communication in a Digital World. Cambridge University Press, 2015. Internet resource
Soderman, S, and H Dolles. Handbook of Research on Sport and Business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013. Internet resource.
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