How Social Media changed Sports forever.

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know full well how Social media has waltzed through the annals of the world, transforming and evolving anything and everything in it’s path. It has all but revolutionized the functioning of the world in ways that were unimaginable. Business have spouted in it’s wake and now no matter the business, there must always be a social media strategy amongst the plans. Without one, sustaining becomes a highly difficult task.
One of the few sectors that Social Media hit heavily happened to be Sports.
In this day and age, Sport in all it’s variants, is booming. From tennis to football and more recently Kabaddi, the spotlight on sports has never been as bright as it is today. One may argue that support for sport has always been passionate. So what changed over the last few years? What was that one defining moment that forever changed the way we look at the game? How did Social Media take us from where we were to where we are now? Questions abound.
On any momentous sporting occasion, fans fill into stadiums, packing them to rafters, all in the name of supporting and cheering their team on. Funnily enough, that’s not where it ends. There is support coming in from several 1000 kilometers away from loyal fans, who are sacrificing their sleep, family time and so on just to make sure that their team does well. Twitter is now the playground where chants are sung, frustrations are aired and sheer ecstasy is shared. Every match today comes in with a hashtag that generates over a several thousand tweets in under two hours alone. Some of last year’s prime examples would include the UEFA Champions League Final, the Holland-Spain game, The Seattle Seahawks decimation of the Denver Broncos to name a few. Some of these games alone generated more than 4.5 million mentions on Twitter.
Over the last decade, the gap between the players and the fans has been greatly reduced. Whether it involves a superstar player looking to connect with his / her fans online or a rookie, just starting out and wanting to make his / her presence known to the world, social media has offered a great platform to launch and sustain the career of athletes. Trials, transfer news, drafts, etc have all gone social. All you need is to take right now is a few links or videos that showcase a potential athlete’s talents and the seeds of a brand are built. In today’s world, image is everything.
Amongst the most active users on Social Media, Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid winger occupies the top spot with over 32 million followers followed by Kaka, the Brazilian playmaker with 22 million followers. More than 8000 athletes and sportspersons around the world have social media accounts and there’s only one way that number is going- up. Research has shown that around 84% of fans stay tuned with social media sites during a game. More than 50% of fans follow their favorite teams on social media and an almost equal number follow their favorite players. 40% of sports fans also access video highlights and interviews of stars and teams online. Even the NBA has integrated social media officially which has resulted in it garnering over a quarter of million followers across Facebook and Twitter.
With real time score alerts to live streams on your respective mobile devices, social media is taking the influence of sports to places that one would never have deemed possible. It has also resulted in a massive boom in ticket sales, with figures almost double of the ones that are sold on a standard basis.

Even television programmes like the BBC MOTD have taken to Social Media.
Even television programmes like the BBC MOTD have taken to Social Media.

However Social Media is a double edged sword and any mistake does not go unpunished not matter how small. More recently, Mario Balotelli, the Liverpool striker was reprimanded for an anti-semitic post that he put up on Twitter. Moderation here is essential. A sports personality must be extremely careful about what he or she says on Social Platforms, else they will have face the consequences.
However, one cannot take away the benefits Sports has reaped from Social Media. And who knows? We might only just be getting started.

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