Not everyone buys into the social networking trend, and as far as social networking websites go, Twitter is probably the most polarizing.
From the initially confusing system of “hashtags” and tweeting “@” different people, to the 140 character limit and the inherently narcissistic idea of gathering “followers,” at first glance, Twitter appears to be a social network reserved for self-promoting socialites, trendy celebrities and their desperate hanger-ons.
It was those particular hang-ups that kept me from creating my own Twitter account for a couple years. Despite my apprehension towards becoming a full-fledged “tweeter,” the professional sports community introduced me to the world of Twitter through their ingenious adaptation of Twitter and I became hooked.
First off, any sports organization worth supporting has their own Twitter account, where they provide the latest news related to the team, including injury updates, player transactions and all manner of press releases.
Having this information and more sent directly to your mobile device is unbelievably convenient. Most teams even commit to live tweets during games, so if you aren’t able to sit down and watch, you can still get nearly instantaneous updates — a valuable service when you’re stuck at work and can only sneak a quick peak at your phone every now and then.
Sports writers and columnists also use Twitter to tweet breaking sports news and offer their off-the-cuff comments.
Twitter essentially provides you with thousands of voices to listen to and the ability to create your own personal mix of coverage and opinions that caters to all of your favourite sports, leagues, teams and athletes. It also allows you to interact with other fans that share the same obsession.
Most importantly, Twitter offers the average sports fan more access to their favourite athletes than official autograph signings or waiting around in parking lots after games ever could. Getting past the every day tweets, fans can get a genuine feel for a player’s personality off the field and can interact with them in the same casual manner that you would with friends on Facebook.
There are many Winnipeg sports fans that know all about the perks of interacting with players through Twitter, as several defensive players from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been reaching out to fans through the social networking website, selling “Swaggerville” t-shirts and meeting up with fans all around the city.
By contacting players like cornerback Jovon Johnson or defensive end Odell Willis on Twitter, fans were able to meet up with players, buy a unique collectable and get a photo with or autograph from members of the top-ranked defence in the CFL.
Now, I only bring up the previous example to illustrate the potential that Twitter has to allow fans and professional athletes to connect. I fully admit that it would be completely unreasonable for all pro athletes to go out of their way to appease every one of their fans.
In most cases, simply getting a reply or “retweet” — perhaps the simplest form of acknowledgement ever created — from a pro athlete is more than enough to make someone’s day.