March 2, 2012
We're all a Twitter for sportsSocial media has changed the game
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
Dear Twitter: You’re killing me.
The social media storm has swept up everything in its path.
Major League Baseball players were online during last year’s Home Run Derby.
This year, the NFL’s Pro Bowl organizers set up a computer on each sideline for players to talk with fans or trash-talk opponents during the action.
In the two-week buildup to the Super Bowl, a social media command centre was installed so fans taking in the event can ask questions and get instant answers.
Social media pioneers like MySpace and Facebook are now just online backups for content that almost always hits Twitter first.
Twitter has taken over. It’s reinvented the way people get their news fix.
And for a 30-something journalist who over the past few years has had to completely re-think the way he communicates information to the public he’s trying to inform and entertain, it is a continuous battle.
There was a time people who didn’t have tickets had to pick up a newspaper to see what happened in last night’s game, or to read somebody’s opinion about it.
Now, they can log on to any sports website to get real-time updates on their phones, or watch it stream live on a mobile device.
Want someone’s opinion on it? Just run a quick search on Twitter, and everyone in the entire world who has something to say about it scrolls down your screen quicker than you can say ‘sweet tweet’.
It’s a radical measure of just how far technology has come across the globe, bridging the gaps in human interaction and how instant the gratification can be for those seeking information.
Even professional athletes, who are so often the subject of the online fodder, turn to social media to find out what’s happening in their own tiny world.
“I don’t mean to offend you with this, but you don’t have to read the newspaper quite as often, just because you can follow all your interests,” Calgary Flames winger Michael Cammalleri says of Twitter. “With the flash of a screen, you can gather a lot of information.
“I find that pretty interesting.”
He’s not alone.
More than 200 NHL players can currently be found on Twitter. Some of the younger ones also have Facebook profiles.
Europeans use it to keep tabs on what’s happening back home and what might be happening in their futures when rumours surface.
“The good thing is I can read some inside stuff right away,” said Calgary Flames centre Mikael Backlund, a Swedish product who came to North America a couple of years ago. “If there’s anything going on ... you get facts pretty quick.
“If something’s out there, it’s out there pretty quick.”
Of course, few players can resist the temptation of pulling open a newspaper daily to see whether he’s being rejoiced or rejected by the scribes analyzing or opining about the previous night’s action.
The beauty of this Twitter thing in terms of its threat to the newspaper industry is you can only say so much in 140 characters. There’s no real opportunity to go in depth.
It does, however, allow us to provide links to our stories the second they are posted online.
Self-promotion at its best, and we’re all learning daily how best to make social media work for us rather than against us.
Getting information out there as quickly as possible, you’ll find out the Flames’ forward combinations from morning skates and practices the second they start their line rushes, get updates on injuries and in-game events as they happen.
And later that night or early the next morning, you’ll find links to our online stories for a more in-depth look at what’s going on in the sporting world.
Of course, nothing beats picking up a paper as a one-stop story shop and its pretty packaging.
Filling up on the bits and pieces you find online are like skipping dinner in favour of appetizers.
You’ll be hungry for more later.