Twitter, Olympics and Athletes

We’re in the midst of the biggest four-yearly show on earth at present, and the interwebz have been saturated with Olympic-related coverage for the past fortnight.

Wherever you go online, everything’s all about the Games of the XXX Olympiad (googling ‘London Olympics’ returns nearly 2.5 billion search results.)

This Olympic omnipresence is especially apparent on microblogging/social media service Twitter.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Dave Paresh recently summed up the marked impact micro-blogs of 140 characters or less are having on London 2012.

“London 2012 has cemented Twitter’s role as both a global living room and a  global water cooler that draws citizens of all sorts – from the athletes  themselves to armchair judges at home – to participate in a communal discussion  about the world as it happens,” Paresh explained.

“More than ever before, Internet users have the choice of shifting between  lives divided by time zones to ones where the world happens at once. No longer  limited to the views of friends, family, reporters and announcers, they can tune  into the instantaneous tweets of half a billion Twitter feeds across  the globe.”

Up-to-the-minute scores, stats, news and results is all great, but what about the effect of the Twittersphere on the Athletes themselves?

Many have used Twitter at these games to interact with fans, give an insight into their Olympic preparations, and thank supporters.

But many others haven’t used the site so successfully.

There’s already been a raft of Twitter-related controversies surrounding these Olympics, from Kenrick Monk and Nick Darcy posing with guns and tweeting the photo, to Emily Seebhom’s coach saying Twitter hindered his charge’s performance, and runner John Steffensen unleashing a tirade against Athletic’s Australia.

Additionally, the International Olympic Committee has blamed effusive Twitter users in  London crowds for sparking a broadcasting malfunction. And its official partnership  with Olympics broadcaster NBC  may have led to the suspension of a journalist’s account because he was critical  of NBC’s broadcast strategy.

Channel 7’s Today Tonight last week explored the negatives of what many have dubbed the ‘Twitter Games.’

Surely Twitter is too big a risk for athletes who self-tweet? After all, many of them (even the very succesful) aren’t  exactly cerebral by nature.

Sports men and women should seriously consider their use of twitter and weight up if the pros of tweeting outweigh the cons; is Twitter of benefit to their credibility and image?

Then again, maybe it’s not such a big deal when the world’s sports stars stuff up on Twitter.

Many sporting superheroes such as rugby’s Quade Cooper tweet daft gramatically-flawed drivel and amass myriad followers (he’s got more than 600,000), so maybe athletes will always be loved online as long as they’re successful on-field.

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