Ok. I’m a self-admitted sports junkie. I used to huddle over a transistor radio with other similarly stricken grade school buddies listening to the NFL draft between classes as early as the sixth grade. It was the only way to find out what our favorite team was doing while the draft was actually happening. It’s now nearly 30 years later (ok, I’m dating myself a bit here) and oh, how things have changed. The dissemination of real-time information is what it’s all about and sports fans are taking it to a whole new level.
The hysteria started a few weeks ago with a goal by Japan’s World Cup soccer team against Cameroon leading to a record number of “Tweets per second” for Twitter. That record lasted less than a week when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics for the NBA championship. These two events were just hot topics for sports fans to discuss amongst themselves. What’s happened over the last few weeks since then with NBA free agency has shown us just how much of an effect social media and Twitter in particular can have – not just from a user engagement standpoint, but as an actual reporting mechanism.
In case you aren’t as much of a sports junkie as I am, here’s the scoop. LeBron James is quickly becoming a household name. He’s only 25 years old but has already won two league MVP awards. He’s the most sought after basketball player in at least the last ten years and teams in all of the major U.S. markets are pitching for his services. This is where social media has hit overdrive. There’s not an NBA hoops beat writer in New York, Chicago, Miami, LA or Dallas who doesn’t have an active blog covering every move LeBron makes. Even more intense is the Twitter presence of same reporters. As we know, it takes a few minutes to write a blog. A Tweet takes seconds. Sports reporting has officially gone real-time.
In this new digital era, being the first to share information is the goal. The eventual “winner” in this NBA free-agency media game is going to be whomever first reports where LeBron is going to sign his next contract. The interesting part of this is that the person who does the “reporting” may very well be LeBron himself.
This is a continuing trend where athletes are becoming the newly empowered news breakers instead of the traditional media outlets. When the big announcement is made tomorrow, you can bet you’ll find it on Twitter before seeing it on ESPN at 9:00. The game is changing and even the media is scrambling to keep up. As for me, I’ll be on Twitter following every move that’s made with the same rabid enthusiasm as when I was a kid listening to the radio for the latest sports updates. The fast-food era of communicating news and information is upon us and the fan inside of me loves every minute of it.