Athletes Adjust to Social Distancing with Social Media

Athletes adjust to social distancing with social media

Sports are universal. They transcend boundaries and language, invoke emotion, and passion. Games that allow fans to show their true colors and cheer on their favorite teams and athletes in the process. Now more than ever, in this time of worry and wonder while COVID-19, a global pandemic is the headline and plastered on our social media, do we need positivity. It’s the perfect opportunity for athletes to keep fans engaged, brands involved, and give us an inside look at their lives both on the field and off.

Retired NBA player Quentin Richardson hopped on Twitter recently to share an emotional video with his daughter. When their daddy-daughter dance was canceled due to the Coronavirus, Richardson and his daughter got dressed up and decided to have it in their living room.

According to Opendorse data, “From the week prior to March 12 (when isolation really started) and the week following athletes in major North American sports shared 30% more often on Twitter and saw a 53% spike in engagement.”

Why are athletes using social media more than ever during this time? We’re all in the same boat. There are no definitive timetables of when our favorite athletes and sports will resume. No games, no highlights, nothing to talk about at work the next morning. Much like the world, sports are on pause as well.

Aligning For a Cause

Six-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors used social media to educate his fans and the rest of the world on COVID-19. Curry brought on the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In an urgent time, Steph realized that he may be able to reach an audience that the major news outlets may not by putting a similar message and the expertise of Dr. Fauci.

Curry is the second most followed NBA player on Instagram with 23.4 million followers, trailing only LeBron James 46.4 million. Since the video has been posted on YouTube on March 26 it has garnered over 150,000 views.

While it’s often easy for athletes to build their audience size and personal brands, during this time it’s important to use that influential status to spread a wealth of information and knowledge with your audience.

“Curry knows he has influence. The man has never misused it. Always using his platform for the greater good, thank you for setting up this Q&A with Dr. Fauci.” – DruZiGaming

Athletes are also using social media platforms during this time to give back and make an impact on the community. When the NBA suspended the season until further notice after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the Coronavirus, Kevin Love, Zion Williamson and many others have pledged significant dollar figures to the arena workers. Owners and numerous athletes immediately followed the suit.

On March 26, Drew Brees and his wife Brittany committed $5,000,000 to the state in 2020 with the priority helping local communities get through this difficult time.

“After considerable research and conversations with local organizations, we will be mobilizing our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need,” he said in a statement.

Fellow quarterback Tom Brady stole headlines when he ended a 20 year run with the New England Patriots to start a new chapter in Tampa Bay. Even though the season is in limbo, perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time has already shown his character in the community. Brady and Gisele Bündchen paid for 750,000 meals through feeding Tampa Bay.

No matter the sport, athletes from every league are banding together, with one goal.

“Let’s all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together,” Brees added in his announcement.

Esports and the Virtual Landscape

Double down on social media whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or even Esports sites like Twitch. 2018 AL CY Young Award winner Blake Snell is one of a handful of athletes taking their athletic talents to the virtual world. Snell can be found on Twitch handing out L’s in MLB The Show. Not only, does he play the game, but he also takes time out in between batters to interact with fans in a chat-style setting. When one fan thanks Snell for hosting these streams during this time, the appreciation was mutual.

“I need ya’ll just as much as you need me,” Snell said.

Snell is one of 30 MLB players who will compete in a 29-game tournament. The virtual contest will include one player from each team including the likes of Hunter Pence of the Giants and 21-year-old phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres.

While traditional social media platforms are thriving, athletes are also taking to virtual sports. With no NASCAR season, racing legend Jimmie Johnson is leaning on the iRacing circuit. Johnson, a seven-time Cup champion, maybe contemplating retirement but is all in on eNASCAR Pro Invitational, which is being contested virtually on the circuit’s most famed tracks.

“We’re trying to figure out how to create value and how to deliver for our partners,” Johnson recently told the Charlotte Observer. “It’s created an interesting environment and everybody handles it a bit differently.”

In this time of worry, sports can be an escape. This is the perfect time for athletes to focus on creating content and the great news is it doesn’t have to be complex. Give the fan an inside look at your life, your passion, and the causes in the community that are near and dear to your heart.

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