Connecting With Your Favorite Celebrity or Athlete
by Jeff Howland
As this year’s baseball season warms up, fans are heading to their computers and phones to keep up to date with what their teams and favorite players are up to during spring training. Athletes in baseball, football, basketball and beyond have been some of the most prolific users of social media in recent years. Twitter, a favorite of many high profile athletes and celebrities, allows immediate, candid communication with hundred of thousands of fans. As players reach out in ways not possible before, a new dynamic is at play, forming a unique, albeit open to interpretation, type of relationship with their fans.
Though these interactions may not form a closer connection in a physical sense, fans are able to have what in some ways, seems like direct access to their favorite players. As Nancy Armour (AP) discussed in more detail recently, fans are not only enjoying their player’s updates on Twitter, they are also getting into the game and seeking a little love in return. How can a fan garner a personal message from their favorite player while also having that very message highlighted for all to see? By soliciting them for a retweet of course! Here are a couple of examples she provided:
“@SHAQ the real superman, can i get a birthday retweet from the most dominant big man of all time?”
“(at)serenawilliams please don’t let me go 0-5 for (hash)serenafriday RT from my favorite female tennis player?”
So instead of a good old-fashioned autograph, fans of a social media bent are resorting to this new method to gain a lasting memory of their favorite player.
In many cases the players themselves are just as ordinary (or would like to be) as the rest of us, and this helps fans to see that other side, the side not seen on the field. While the potential exists for this form of communication to backfire for celebrities, as it has for the likes of Alec Baldwin and Ashton Kutcher, on the whole it is providing a way for fans to feel a little closer to the stars.
While a retweet may never replace the smell of grass on a spring afternoon or the sound of the ball hitting the leather, I’ll give this trend a rating of “Hot”, because it gives those who may otherwise never get the opportunity to visit the field, a chance to connect in a new way, with those who filled our childhood minds with dreams of rounding third in the bottom of the 9th.
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