Published on August 19, 2015 by Carson Howe  

#Informative. #Progressive… #Dangerous? Is Twitter a fabulous communication mechanism designed to express thoughtful insight to large groups of people in the blink of an eye? Yes. Is Twitter a tool that must be used in today’s society to keep up? It most certainly is. Is Twitter also a risky proposition if not used correctly? Absolutely, without question, and athletes better be aware of that.

Way back in the dark ages, the social media world first began with AOL Instant Messenger. This was followed by Friendster, Sixdegrees and MySpace. Finally the online network arena exploded with Linkedin, Facebook and historically, on March 21, 2006, the first tweet was launched. Since that time, Twitter has exploded to become an essential instrument for most everyone involved in sports.

Twitter is a great way for teams and organizations to connect with their own players and fans in many different ways. It is a vehicle utilized by teams to inform team members of the latest information regarding all team business. From a fan’s perspective, it’s an opportunity to connect with their biggest sports idols, favorite teams and even coaches.

Many in the world of sports have used Twitter for the good of the community. Take John Buccigross (@Buccigross) for example. He claims to be a convert from Facebook, stating that Twitter gives him more “control.”   He has gone so far as to start a charity event. “I just randomly started with retweets and now it has become a fundraiser’” said Buccigross, who raised over $40,000 for charity through the use of Twitter. “I was shocked how people took to it,” he stated.With respect to athletes, Twitter is a tremendous platform reaching millions of people providing an opportunity to build a brand name. In his article written for Forbes, Mark Burns (@markjburns88) follows the positive activity of many responsible Twitter participants, such as Jay Bilas (@JayBilas), Jimmy Sanderson (@Jimmy_Sanderson), and Lauren Teague (@LaurneTee), all three from wildly different ends of the sports spectrum, but all sharing the same bond with respect to the usefulness of Twitter to reach their audience in a positive manner.

Without question, Twitter has many positives. However, there can be many pitfalls with respect to Twitter in sports and athletes must be keenly aware of the long-term effect that a negative Twitter experience can have. Yes, freedom of speech is alive and well in America, but one must also be aware that a reputation can be affected for life from a careless error.   With a Twitter post, there is no way to provide a full explanation. A brief tweet - less than 140 characters - does not allow for an audience to always fully understand its entire meaning.

Below is a look at the number of Twitter followers, by percentage of certain major sports:

Twitter Followers: % of Followers, Males age 13+, By Major Sport Category
Sport 2012 2013 2014
NFL 54.9 55.9 61.6
NBA 62.1 56.5 65.5
Tennis n/a 55.9 67.7
Golf n/a 64.7 74.7
College Football 55.1 55.8 64

Being a college athlete myself, I am aware of the importance of reputation, not only for myself, but for the University that I represent. A careless tweet affects so many people and can have long-lasting effects on the future of both the athlete and the institution. Future employers can go back and research a poster’s history very easily and to have a negative Twitter experience affect your future livelihood would be a shame.

So, go ahead and keep up with the crowd, but think before you click.

This blog post was written by Samford University student Carson Howe.


SBRnet – Sports Business Research Network

Forbes 100 must-follow sports business twitter accounts of 2014 – Mark Burns