Monday, August 31, 2009

Twitter Haters

Seems like professional sports leagues aren't big fans of Twitter and other social media tools.

The US Open has taken a stand against tweeting as they believe confidential information could possibly be relayed back to sport gambling agencies.

"Many of you will have Twitter accounts in order for your fans to follow you and to become more engaged in you and the sport - and this is great," the notices read. "However popular it is, it is important to warn you of some of the dangers posted by Twittering as it relates to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules." - (, By Howard Fendrich, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

I guess if a player sees another player attending to an injury, the information could be sent out to sport bookies and other people who could benefit from that information.

The NFL has also sent out a warning to any players using Twitter.

The plays and strategies that teams come up with can win and lose games. Sharing any of this information could be very detrimental to a teams success.

"They fear opponents might gain a competitive advantage from even the briefest tweet about injuries, personnel decisions, trick plays or food. The Chargers allow players to tweet, but fined cornerback Antonio Cromartie US$2,500 for using Twitter to complain about training camp chow."

I think it's fair to expect more and more of this. Professional athletes can connect to fans without any regulations. The teams who pay their salaries do have a right to step in but how much is too much?

Oil City Speculation

Here in Oil City, player trades, contract negotiations and player performance are the most popular topics for fans. Who might go where, how much money a player might want and potential line-ups for the next game can often be heard at coliseums and bars.

Rumors and speculation have proven to be very important to professional sports. It gives fans something to talk about when a game isn’t going on and stay connected to the sport. It generates interest and keeps things exciting for the fans.

"It is part of selling the game. I think rumors are good for the game because they create interest." - Glen Sather, former Edmonton Oilers general manager (National Post, Fri Jan 14 2000)

Where does the rumor begin?

Professional writers working for media outlets are usually close to the day-to-day operations of sports teams and events. They tend to have some sources within the league and get to witness things happen. Quite often though, these writers need to start the speculation to sell papers and themselves. If all they did was report on what they saw, they’d be out of a job. They have to provide more than that, which often results in farfetched guesses. For example, if a player misses a practice session with his team, it could be speculated that he’s hurt, when really, he could be attending a family event.

Professional teams have also been guilty of starting rumors. Why? It can help motivate a player to play better.

"A player reads a rumor in the paper that he is going to be traded, so all of a sudden his game picks up. [Vaclav Prospal, Ottawa Senator player] was brutal until the stories came out that he was going to be traded, and all of a sudden he is playing a lot better." - Glen Sather, former Edmonton Oilers general manager (National Post, Fri Jan 14 2000)

Professional sports agents, who represent players in contract negotiations like to spit in the rumor mill as well. They may want to create the perception that their client is in high-demand by other professional teams.

Fans take this information, analyze it, discuss it and share it. Along the way, the information is susceptible to some distortion. With new forms of social media, this information not only travels faster, but it now comes from even more sources.

Social Media Revolution

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lebron vs The World

Lebron James, one of the NBA's biggest stars, got himself into an interesting predicament a while back. While playing in a pick-up game with some other NBA players, as well as college players, Lebron got dunked on.

Not by another NBA star. But by a college kid.

Lebron is in a league of his own. He was drafted straight out of high school and had a tonne of hype around him before he even set foot on to a professional league court. Ever since, he's been a franchise player, smashing records and getting his team to the Eastern Conference final.

King James, as he's called, is a superstar.

Right after he got dunked on, his biggest sponsor asked for all tapes of the event be turned over to them. Attempt to make sure the world doesn't see a superstar get posterized by a college kid? Please, it's 2009. That clip was on Youtube within seconds and word spread pretty fast with the help of Facebook, Twitter and the other social networking tools.

Professional athletes have an image to develop and protect. But the image needs fans to exist. Millions of dollars are spent by sponsors to sell products and athletes to fans and consumers. And a lot of energy is spent on protecting that image. This really demonstrates how fans are now controlling that image. As a collective, they can create the image and destroy it.

A lot of this is due to the fact that social networking tools and easy-to-use technology is readily available to anyone with a computer.