Social Media Helps Make a Benchwarmer a Star

On February 3th, very few people actually knew that the New York Knicks had a player by the name of Jeremy Lin.  He’s the latest athlete from Harvard that has taken the sports world by storm.

This is Lin’s second year in the NBA, but he made a splash on February 4th of this year when he put up 25 points against the New Jersey Nets.  Since that game, he hasn’t scored less than 20 points.  Against the Lakers on February 10th, he outperformed future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant with a 38 point performance.

But, while Lin’s performance is certainly something to talk about, it’s not the first time a player has come off of the bench and performed well.  This time, it just seems a little different.

Maybe it’s the fact that he played at Harvard, he is the first Asian-American to play in the league in decades, or he’s just got a magnetic personality.  Whatever it is, all we can say is that Jeremy Lin has combined all of these things with his outstanding play on the court to become a hit on social media.

If you don’t believe me, let’s just say that this is a rap created just for him on YouTube:

In today’s world, stars aren’t just made on the court or field.  They’re also made on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Unfortunately, there’s not a defined recipe that can be replicated.

However, there are a few key characteristics that sports/social media stars tend to have in common.

First, it goes without saying that they are really good at what they do.  Athletes that have bad performances may start trending, but it’s generally short-lived.  To have a big impact on social media for days or weeks at a time, you must continually have outstanding performances.

Second, social media stars tend to be underdogs.  There aren’t very many Asian players in the NBA, and Lin is the only player from Harvard, which isn’t necessarily known as an institution that churns out basketball stars.  Also, for example, look at Tim Tebow.  Obviously, he had a great college career, but many NFL analysts said that his style of play would never translate to the next level.  As he began to prove people wrong week after week, you couldn’t get on Twitter or Facebook with out reading his name or seeing a picture of someone “Tebowing”.

Lastly, their popularity seems to be genuine.  By that, I mean that their social media fame appears to be generated in a way that wasn’t promoted by the star himself.  Others did it for him, and that makes people more likely to support it.

Who knows if the Jeremy Lin buzz will continue for the rest of the season.  He’s filling in while other stars are injured, and many wonder how he will be used when they come back.  But, for now, it’s fun to get behind such a likable player that is really giving his team a boost when they needed it the most.

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