Think you’re a real sports fan just because you wear your favorite player’s uniform, buy all their memorabilia, and watch all their games on TV? Not so fast! According to CNN, today’s sports fans are discovering a way to feel even closer to their favorite athletes: Twitter.
As we’ve discussed before, Twitter is a way to stay connected with people on the Internet by writing short messages, called “tweets.” Once you post a tweet, it’s instantly forwarded to everyone in your personal network. Experts say it was only a matter of time before professional athletes discovered the advantages of using Twitter. For the athlete, it provides a safe and fun way to share more personal thoughts and experiences directly with fans. Meanwhile, fans get an instant, behind-the-scenes interaction that they’d never get from watching a game on TV.
For example, several NHL hockey all-stars posted dozens of tweets, and answered questions from fans, during this year’s All-Star game in Montreal. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong often posts tweets while he’s at home. One recent message read: “Eating pizza with the family. Kids go home tomorrow. And a hellacious week of training coming up.” Granted, many celebrities are known to hire professional writers to update their online blogs and social profiles, but what makes Twitter different is that athletes can write and post their own tweets directly from a cell phone! That’s how basketball star Shaquille O’Neal was able to tweet about everything from his diet to his recent trip to Graceland. He’s become one of the most prolific posters on Twitter, with a rabid following of more than 700,000 fans.
In another twist, eleven broadcasters from TNT recently joined Twitter for this year’s basketball playoffs. One of their plans is to organize a nationwide scavenger hunt, where commentators would post location clues on Twitter. Then at the end of the hunt, one lucky fan would find a pair of tickets to a finals game! In other words: If you’re not tweeting these days, you may be missing out on the latest opportunity to get even closer to your favorite athletes.