Sports: Social Media is Changing the Game

May 30, 2013

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Ian Ray

Social Media and Sports Go Together

Social media channels like Twitter or Facebook have been around for less than ten years and it has already changed the way sports fans interact with each other, sport teams and athletes. A few questions that we’ll discuss: How does this social media movement affect sports and the way we view or watch sports? Do we still use traditional media like TV, radio or cable to listen to our favorite teams play every night? For the purposes of this discussion we’ll cover three topics about how live updates affect the way we watch games and interact with athletes.

Live Updates

College athletics have taken the initiative to interact and post updates on scores and pictures of fans at games on their athletic website using communication channels such as Twitter and Instagram. For example, Kent State University includes Instagram pictures and interaction with the athletic team through Twitter on their website to keep their content fresh and to provide interaction for those away from the game so they can enjoy and be involved with the game as an “in the moment” experience. Burst Media performed a study on the demographical information of sport fans and how they use social media to keep them in the loop with sports. Forty-five percent of 18-35 year olds follow sports teams or athletes online. Thirty-five percent of the same demographic group regularly used social media to comment on, tweet/retweet, share or link to online sports content. It’s data like this that shows how the industry is changing.

Multiple Screen Interactions

With the current trend of “multi-tasking”, TV and radio channels compete against the constant feed from Twitter and apps like Score Center from ESPN for attention and ways to get informed on-the-go instead of sitting through a whole game on a couch. Twenty-six percent of those watching TV also use a tablet several times a day compared to those who never use a tablet and just “veg” out for the duration of the game watching their TV. Recent technology and satellite services offer TV customers the ability to watch sports on different devices throughout the house without having to turn off the TV. The capability to also watch their game on their tablet while they move around the house allows the viewer to not miss anything important or engagement with other fans through live chat on many platforms.


Social media trends can be formed in an instant even when an athlete does something seemingly simple. This was the case for Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow, who became Internet and social media sensations, thanks to their unique performance that landed them fame in the sport community. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets star and a Harvard graduate, went undrafted and became an instant NBA sensation in one game when he started with the New York Knicks on the February 4th game against the New Jersey Nets, finishing his first game with 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists – all career highs. This resulted in a 99-92 victory for the Knicks, without their two All-Star players Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. After his performance, the “Linsanity” craze on the internet began. The results of his presence on social media gave Lin 550,000 followers in a single month. Tim Tebow, a former NFL player for the New York Jets, had a similar story to Lin except he was a former Heisman Trophy winner during his 2007 collegiate season. Tebow exploded in the social media scene when he turned around a Denver Broncos team that was 1-4 before he became a starter and took this team to the playoffs where they won their first AFC West title and playoff game since 2005. His famous pose after each touchdown run became known as “Tebowing” which burst into the Twitter conversation worldwide. After his impressive game, 9,000 people per second tweeted about Tim Tebow, creating a massive buzz on social media.

Tablets, social platforms and people – real people- together are changing the way we view sports and interact with each other. What other ways has social media affected the way you live your life?

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