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The Impact of Social Media in Sports

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Athletes like Odell Beckham Jr. are popular in the social media universe. Photo: Tim Ireland/AP

By Chenghao Ma |

The rising of mobile phone users and social media has changed the way we look at variety things in today’s society, including our engagement in sports. There are many different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube etc.; people can use these social media tools really conveniently in their daily lives. Social media has become an important tool for distributing contents and attracting new readers, as well as creating more participation. The social media tools have impacted the sports from many different ways, such as communications and sports marketing.

Obviously, social media is one of the most important tools for sports, the fans and the athletes. First of all, as we know, the population of social media users has increased dramatically over the past years. People can engage in the sports, follow their favorite athletes and teams, and get the most updated sports contents instantaneously. Second, for sports organizations, the advantages of using social media is that it can help sports organizations to build relationships with the public, to reduce their marketing costs and to increase sales etc. Organizations can use social media to promote two-way conversations with the public and build a community under their mission. Third, social media has got attraction as an essential tool for connecting with sports fans. For individual sports fans, social media is a very important tool for them to interact and share information with other individuals, to engage in two-way communication with sports organizations. Finally, athletes can benefit from using social media to connect with their fans, to build a personal brand and to promote themselves etc. Compared with the traditional media, the social media nowadays costs less but affects more efficiently and more consistently. Just one post per day could make the athlete active in his/her fans’ sights, which will bring corresponding economic benefits. Besides, the athlete himself/herself may enjoy more while sharing their sports relevant updates, which will certainly lead to a sustainable development.

Despite of the many benefits, there are still some negatives of social media in sports. For example, bad contents can be spread more quickly than ever before; players may have no idea of using the social media appropriately; negative comments from fans could affect the performance of the athletes or the team, etc. There are lots of cases indicating that the use of social media among athletes need to be trained and one bad post can dramatically influence the athletes as well as the sports organizations. All in all, social media is still at its infancy and will continue to grow, and the engagement of social media in sports is one of the most significant issues in the sports industry. The sports fans and athletes, as well as sports organizations are embracing social media as the most important tools to promote, to communicate and to interact.

Mr. Ma Chenghao is a lecturer in the Physical Education Unit in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen. He is also pursuing a doctoral degree from the United States Sports Academy. 

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