Sports and social media



Erin_HeadshotIf you look to the bottom of this column, you will see a graphic that says, “Follow Erin @erinmadden2016.” Social media has become prevalent in today’s society and even more so in the realm of sports journalism. Granted, I had my Twitter account long before I got my job in the athletics department or started working as Sports Editor, but Twitter has helped me in my work more than I ever could have imagined.

As I am writing my senior thesis on the impact that social media has on sports journalism, I want to enlighten you all on what I have learned over the past five months (and hopefully inspire more of my own thesis as I currently have 20 pages left to go).

I am an administrator of the Baron Von Steubie Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account. The Franciscan University of Steubenville athletics department joined Facebook and Twitter back in 2010. Our Instagram account is newer, having only been created this past August.

Our Facebook page has 1,160 likes as of Oct. 31. For the week of Oct. 25, the page got 17 new likes. Our posts reached 4,635 people with a post engagement of 901. Out of the 10 schools in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, Franciscan has the most likes on its page.

The Baron Von Steubie Twitter account has tweeted 2,973 times to 831 followers. When I work home volleyball games or tennis matches, I try to live-tweet to our fans who could not join us on campus. Live-tweeting varies for each sport. I tweeted only five times during the Senior Day volleyball game Oct. 24 against Pitt.-Bradford while I tweeted 32 times during the women’s tennis AMCC semifinal loss to Penn St.- Behrend.

Instagram is the athletics department’s newest endeavor. In the two months since the account was created, we’ve posted 41 different pictures to 75 followers. The majority of the posts are graphics created with action photos and layered text to remind our followers about home games.

In time, as social media continues to grow and change, we might explore other options such as a YouTube account or an athletics’ Snapchat. Only time can tell.

What are some of the concrete impacts that social media has had on sports? One of the books I read this summer testified to the liberal bias that people in sports media have. If and when I get into the field after graduation, I hope to change that bias to make conservative and Christian viewpoints more accepted.

Sports journalists enjoy interaction with their followers while followers enjoy the immediacy that is so craved by sports fans. Journalists also enjoy a wide range of readily available sources at their fingertips.

Women sports journalists have more of a voice now than ever before. Social media allows them to have an even louder voice. However, social media has a level of transparency that allows males who still believe in their dominance in sports to speak their minds loudly without fear of retribution.

As social media continues to grow and new platforms are created, the impact that social media has on sports journalism will continue to grow in correlation.

Now I should probably go and write some more of my thesis…