If as the saying goes, “There’s no crying in baseball,” shouldn’t we hold athletes from all sports to the same standard? Only, I want to take this mantra one step further—to social media.
Since sport began, we learned to settle our scores on the field, but with the advent of social media, we’ve changed our approach. Now, rather than players letting their game do the talking, they air out their grievances and beefs online—mostly over Twitter. You know what we call those guys? We call them paper tigers.
We were meant to use social media as a platform for individual expression. Athletes, in particular, have the opportunity to influence others with their voice and creativity. Instead of using social media for good though, most end up making a mockery of it to extend their post-game banter.
Athletes are capable of contributing so much more and creating worthwhile content for their millions of fans. Some are already doing so and showing us the real value that lies beneath. Let’s explore the real champions of social media and how more athletes can take advantage of it.
The Tom Brady of Social Media: Tom Brady
I know people will say I’m a homer for saying this, but Tom Brady is easily the best athlete I’ve seen at creating entertaining and engaging social media content. Yes, he had four weeks to work on content during his suspension this year, but he’s been churning out great content for years!
TB Times: A new content piece this year, Tom Brady has begun to post satirical headlines to Facebook following each Patriots win summing up the game and their opponent. It’s a fun way to engage fans after games and do so in a positive manner, rather than denigrate the opponent.
Fun With Friends: Following your favorite athletes on social media should provide a glimpse into their lives. Hopefully, it gives you an opportunity to live vicariously through them. For Brady, he uses social media as a chance to interact with and throw playful jabs at his teammates and even include them in fun photos or videos like this Anchorman parody. This video even spurred responses from several of his teammates!
It’s All For the Fans: Chad Ochocinco
Chad Ochocinco was one of the fiercest competitors in the NFL during his career and was never short for words when it came to his opponents. One thing I admired though is that he didn’t use social media to extend his trash talk, but instead used it to form a deeper connection to his fans.
He used it for good, whether that was providing a pick-me-up to a fan in need, or taking challenges from his fans to play FIFA online. Players like Ochocinco aren’t required to make the fans a priority, but doing so has clearly impacted several fans personally and has humanized him to millions more.
Brand Building and Social Awareness: Martellus Bennett
I know, I’m going with another Patriots player here, but Martellus Bennett has been a social media star since his days on the Bears. What distinguishes him from others is that he uses his social media presence to bring change and help others view the world differently.
A creative and outspoken individual, Martellus is an active user of Instagram. Through this platform, he shares photos of his family, but also his more creative side (inner-child) with his unique animations and drawings. Often, these photos are tagged with #TheImaginationAgency which is a multimedia agency he founded himself.
Through his creative outlet, he was able to release his own children’s book and interactive app. He uses Instagram and Twitter as a means to promote not only his brand, but also literacy among our nation’s children. It’s gratifying to see the good that comes from this social awareness.
Final Thoughts: Athletes are entitled to expressing themselves in the manner they see fit, especially via social media. Not everyone is going to use social media for good, but they all have the opportunity to positively influence millions of impressionable fans.
Athletes need to keep the trash talk to the playing field and use social media for what it was meant for—making a positive impact on their fans and community. Is that too much to ask for?