The time of watching television alone is completely over. As the NHL and NBA playoffs rage on those who enjoy their sports with others can do so even if they are sitting on their couch. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in a sort, fans and opponents can come together to praise the stars, laugh at the failures and do everything else in between. All of this is possible today due to the phenomenon that we at the Social Platform have dubbed “socially sporting.”
Although the summer is considered the “slow” time in sports, that doesn’t mean that fans can’t take to their favorite platforms to interact with the athletes they love and hate the most. During the season it’s much more interesting to reach out to an athlete after a bad game to support or antagonize them (as long as it doesn’t go to far.) Fans may never know what will be sent back their way. Stars such as the New York Knicks J.R. Smith frequently responds to both fans and critics with jabs that are often hilarious.
Interacting with athletes online may also give fans the opportunity to receive once in a lifetime opportunities. For example, Chad Johnson once awarded a player with tickets to a game, including air fare, simply because they reached out to him via Twitter to express that they were a fan of his. All it took was 140 characters and this person was on a plane to watch their favorite player compete. Quite worth the investment of time.
During popular points of the season hash tags come into play to focus discussions on specific teams, players and post season series. The #NBAFinals and #StanleyCup trending topics took off during the final weeks of both the NBA and NHL seasons as fans went at each other with every exciting play. The debates are most likely never going to end, but social media gives fans an opportunity to argue with people from all over the world.
Social media platforms have given us a whole new level of access to the people that were often outside of our reach. Even though some people are grossly abusive of the opportunity, “socially sporting” gives us the chance to see a different side of the athletes that are admired or loathed on the court, field or rink. It may not add anything to your life long term, but there will always be a sense of astonishment if you see your favorite athlete respond to something you sent them via social media and in the end, that’s the whole point.