The Twitter Effect on Sports

Darren Rovell, CNBC

Recently in a poll conducted by Sports Networker, they asked readers to vote for the "Top Sports Social Media Professional" and "Top Sports Business Resource" for 2010. CNBC's sports business reporter, Darren Rovell, achieved both titles in a landslide victory. Founder of Sports Networker, Lewis Howes, interviewed Rovell about his success in the sports media, and his predictions for the future of the industry. Most of the interview pertains to the topic of Twitter, and the role it plays in the media. Rovell outlined some advice on how to successfully use Twitter, and how he thinks many in the sports world are missing it.

Benefits of Twitter:
Twitter can enhance our business persona and presence but sticking to business 100% of the time can also prove fatal. Rovell points out that when he entered the Twitter realm, he only tweeted business information. However, he soon realized that if you want to earn and maintain followers, you need to recognize that they want to know who are and why they should listen to you. Understandably this should be obvious, but many may find it difficult on where to draw the line between personal and professional. Personally, I am within the generation who has seen the birth of social media and readily gravitated towards this new creation, but this does not mean I know everything about social media. Typically, when anything is new there will always be mistakes, but these will not be recognized till someone makes them. Many of my peers post some compromising and way too personal information on social media outlets, and they do not see anything wrong with it. However, I believe anything I post online will be seen by anyone and everyone, including future employers, and I tend to shy away from becoming too personal. Then if I stick with this path, my online presence seems similar to that of a cold, robotic machine because of my fear of becoming too personal. The problem with being the first generation of social media is that I do not have the benefit any set rules in place because any "rules" of social media are constantly shifting and changing. I guess the most important thing I need to understand is that I can't be too afraid of possible negative repercussions from social media, that I do not utilize all the benefits I can gain.

Rovell highlights an very important tool Twitter offers which is a direct connection to an athlete. He points out that many athletes are not willing to just hand over personal information such as a phone number or email, and Twitter allows you a direct connection to them. He relays a story about how LeBron sent out a question through Twitter, and Rovell sent an answer to LeBron which garnered a response from LeBron. He then mentions that this initial contact and acknowledgement from LeBron could be a gateway to bigger things, such as tweeting him and asking to meet for an interview real quick before the game. This is a great opportunity for anyone to take advantage of, and it does not necessarily just apply to the sports realm. This advice seems to be reason enough for anyone to join Twitter because usually when trying to reach a big-name athlete, you have to make your way through agents, managers, etc. who may filter you out and prevent a meeting. However, I understand not every athlete would be willing to pay attention to just anyone, so it only stresses the importance of building a strong professional online presence. Athletes meet a ton of people on a daily basis, and I would assume, do not remember over 98% of them. Nonetheless, many athletes use Twitter on a daily basis and would be more likely to remember a sports professional who is constantly updating important information every day.

Failure to use Twitter:
Although Twitter gives you a direct connection to athletes, many athletes fail to even use Twitter. Rovell then continues to explain that even those athletes who use Twitter still fail to use it to its full potential. He explains that Twitter is an important resource for athletes to stand out among their team and develop their own individual identity. I believe this is a very valid point that athletes fail to recognize. Although athletes may be on a good team, even some of the most die-hard fans do not know their names. I have been a die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan my entire life, but I could not name most of the starting line-up. Only in recent years have been able to identify each player and their position, but I have no idea about any personal information and a lot of the time I do not even know what their voice sounds like. This is common among all sports team in every league. If they are not the "LeBron" or "Kobe," they tend to get pushed to the side, and Twitter provides an opportunity for them to stand out and create an identity. Nonetheless, athletes are not capitalizing on this opportunity to develop their identity and foster a relationship with fans who are just waiting to take hold.

Rovell mentions that many sports teams not using Twitter to their full advantage, but their failure stems from different reasons. He mentions that teams, such as the New York Yankees, do not have to continue to build their brand so they find it unnecessary. This is a common reason that many sports teams are hesitant to utilize Twitter. I can understand the team's viewpoint because I love the Phillies regardless if they have a Twitter or not. This tends to be an old way of thinking because the influence of social media is very powerful, and younger generations growing up tend to rely heavily on it. It may be powerful enough to encourage a new fan, and they may not realize it now but this may be the future of sports fans.

Rovell concludes the interview with an important prediction for anyone looking for a career in sports:

"...[I]n my predictions for this up-coming year, I think that the social media coordinator is the best job that will open up on sports teams.I know you do a lot with what the future is and how young people can get jobs in sports. And I don’t think that’s going to be on a job posting. You have to show how you do it. And I think a lot of people will get that job if they're good."

Howes, L. (2010, December 29). Interview with darren rovell: sports business man of the year. Retrieved from

"Darren_Rovell" [Photograph]. Retrieved from

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