Social Media and Athletes: Good or Bad?

Professional athletes certainly have high pressure jobs.  Granted, they are paid handsomely for what they do, but it is stressful, nonetheless.  They must work tirelessly to keep their bodies in peak condition, they constantly have new talent itching to steal their job, and they are one injury away from an early retirement.

If that wasn’t stressful enough, athletes must also find ways to win with some regularity to ensure that their fan base doesn’t turn on them and their coaches.  As soon as the losses begin tallying up, those that cheered them with all their might suddenly become very hostile.

Athletes have dealt with these issues for years, but today’s professionals have it even worse.

They have to deal with Twitter.

Ask any retired NFL, NBA, or MLB star, and they will tell you that it would be much more difficult playing in today’s world.  In the past, there may have been a few hundred sports reporters around the country.  Now, thanks to Twitter, there are millions.  Any sports fan with a Twitter account can break ESPN-worthy news about a team or particular athlete in a matter of seconds.

Are you the quarterback on a team that recently lost a big game?  You better not let someone see you grabbing coffee in town.  If so, you might see a tweet like this on the local news: “Just saw our QB hanging out at Starbucks. WHY ISN’T HE WATCHING FILM?! #getbetter”

Of course, that’s the negative aspect of Twitter for athletes.  On the flip side, social media platforms like Twitter also provide opportunities for athletes that weren’t available ten years ago.

For instance, an athlete that isn’t an All Star on the field can market themselves by interacting with fans online.  Take Chad Ochocinco, for instance.  He’s no longer considered one of the premiere wide receivers in the NFL, but he has managed to keep himself relevant by entertaining his millions of Twitter followers daily.  That means more opportunities for endorsements and career options after football is over.

So, even though social media puts more pressure on professional athletes to perform, those that utilize it to its fullest can reap the benefits that simply weren’t available to their predecessors less than a decade ago.