Guest Article By: Peter Roumeliotis
So Canada had an unmemorable 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship (WJC) in Finland, but I will not be talking about what happened on the ice. Instead, I will discuss how the players’ decision to avoid Social Media(SM) use during the tournament, was actually quite smart and ideal. Having academically studied SM as a tool for fan engagement in sports, I have observed that there is a lot of focus on why athletes are not very active on SM in terms of tweeting out fun and engaging content or interacting with fans.
One factor that often gets ignored, is all the content and news articles that these athletes are consuming from SM. Just because the players aren’t actively tweeting or re-tweeting or liking your tweet, does not exactly mean they did not see or read the article you wrote or shared.Team Canada’s unsuccessful tournament in Finland led to an infatuated amount of criticism and smack talk. Sporting spectacles to begin with are some of the most emotional events out there. With social media added to the mix, one could make the argument sporting events become potentially explosive. Social media adds another layer of participation to the fray. Now the fan has an equal footing with the athlete. The fan can build his own network, engage with others and as we saw at WJC, engage directly with athletes.
The worst part about this is that it started immediately after the Boxing Day loss to Team USA. I’ve said on twitter and I will say it here: THEY ARE KIDS! These players are under 20 years old and appropriately decided not to have access to the harshness and negativity that developed on SM. Hopefully this makes us all a little bit more aware about the “receiving” of the message rather than “sending” it.
Peter (@Peteybeats on Twitter) is a social media and content marketing expert who currently writes for Sports Illustrated as an NHL section contributor and does social media for the QMJHL. Peter completed his MA in Communications Studies at Carleton University in 2015. One of Peter’s main focuses right now is his podcast Popternative where he invites guests every week and has topical discussions from the worlds of social media, sports and pop culture.