Sports have been a stage for entertainment. Over the last month, and increasingly so, sporting events have been used as grounds to showcase opinions for political and social justice. Colin Kaepernick, Arian Foster, and Megan Rapinoe are just a few of the athletes who have decided to sit during the national anthem before their games. These men and women are acting as such to continue the “conversation” for social justice and equality for all. As a result, anything out of the norm or just simply new will always bring out strong opinions on all social media platforms. I love using Twitter and ever since Kaepernick took a seat during the anthem in the pre-season, Twitter hasn’t given the San Francisco quarterback a break.
The hashtags, #VeteransforKaepernick, #BoycottNFL, and #KapSoBlack, started to trend and are still some of the most used hashtags on Twitter! He became so infamous all over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that he led his team in jersey sales for a month…as the backup quarterback! When was the last time you heard the backup quarterback leading an NFL team in jersey sales? Since his remarkable run to the Super Bowl in 2012, his career has certainly fallen off. But, here he is, as the most talked about athlete in the country right now. If he had done this 50 years ago, people would have seen this on the news for a day and it would have passed. However, due to Twitter’s platform, users can continue to tweet their emotional opinions. Thus, an athlete realizes how much of a polarizing figure he or she is and can decide to act in such a way to cause this sort of reaction. Nowadays, social media is such a great platform for current events and breaking news that anything an athlete does, which is somewhat to the degree of Kaepernick’s action, will cause a huge worldwide debate.
We can say the same for both Rapinoe and Foster. Rapinoe certainly had her shining moments as a member of the USA Women’s National Soccer Team, winning Olympic Gold and a World Cup. Foster was once one of the best running backs in the NFL. Both are no longer at the top of their respective sports, however, since we rely on social media so much as a news source any athlete in any position can seriously make a stance or bring to a light a social issue. I’m certainly not saying these athletes across the country are doing the right or wrong thing by sitting or taking a knee during the national anthem. However, this proves that sports in this country is on a stage that any athlete can easily have the light shine on them via Facebook or Twitter. Each and every one of these athletes know their abilities as an athlete in this country. In the United States, we put athletes on such a pedestal, which we can certainly prove by looking at how many followers they all have on Instagram and Twitter. These are people we love to watch perform in their respective sports and will always feel connected to, even more so on these various platforms.
These men and women captivate our attention like nothing else. And with the help of Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram we only love them more! There are Twitter settings to alert users when certain people tweet. As a result, many people can be notified when their favorite athlete has something to say. These platforms have only elevated the stature of sports athletes in America. For example, we only used to see NFL players on Sundays during their games. Now via Snapchat we can see what Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. are up to on their free time.
Social networks have completely changed the landscape of sports. Leagues and teams have become corporations and they have each used social media to gain traction as their popularity increases. As more people feel connected to these men and women, they attend more games, buy more jerseys, and watch more sports. What does this mean? More and more money for leagues, teams and players. Athletes certainly have their public relations teams telling them to keep their Twitter and Snapchat presences up to grow their popularity amongst fans. For instance, Kaepernick leads his team in jersey sales as the backup quarterback, Brandon Marshall makes a bet with Antonio Brown on his car on Snapchat, and there’s always Johnny Football Tweeting something.
Recently we have all witnessed how social media has reacted to many athletes taking a knee or a seat during the playing of the national anthem. They have all done so to create a “conversation” about social justice. In this generation, as we are all so reliant on various social media platforms, the “conversation” is certainly taking place. Due to America’s love for its athletes, we can see everything they do. Athletes have such a following in this country that they can certainly create a stir by doing anything. And since social media is so open, it will continue to resonate with the entire population. Some of the most followed people on any social network are athletes. Due to their popularity they can easily bring forward any social issue and create a worldwide debate, which is not something the average Twitter user can do. The average user would have to put in a lot more effort to be able to cause a social media trend.
The key to athletes and their popularity on social media is the money they generate. By increased popularity they can make more money off of jersey sales and sponsorships, since companies will see how popular they are with fans. The current state of America’s love for sports and the world’s need for social media places athletes on a pedestal unlike any other.