I expected that social networks would be a factor in the 2012 Olympics, but it wasn’t until I was watching the primetime NBC official Olympic coverage when Ryan Seacrest was announced as a guest reporter that I realized that social media is playing such a huge role in this games that the host of American Idol needed to be flown to London just to explain it to us all. It was kind of an odd moment in broadcasting, but it was when I realized that London 2012 had become the Socialympics.
But the judges scores are still out in deciding how high to score the affect of social media on the London 2012 games. For reporters, it’s made their job easier than ever before as direct quotes from athletes can be cut and pasted from their status updates. And in cases of athletes such as Usain Bolt from Jamaica, Andy Murray from Great Britain and Michael Phelps from the USA, the sheer volume of social network followers has become a news story in itself.
And fans love it. Never before has there been such close interaction between fans and Olympic athletes. Twitter, Facebook and other social media allows fans to feel more connected to the competitors and bring an entirely new interactive dimension to the Olympic Games.
But is it good for athletes? Probably not. London 2012 has been awash with tales of the dark side of social media including the arrest of one 17 year old on suspicion of sending exceptionally malicious tweets to British diver Tom Daley. Athletes need to learn how to deal with social media without losing their focus and possibly an Olympic medal.
Social media will continue to play a huge role in London 2012 and subsequent Olympic Games and will continue to create interest, excitement, interactivity and controversy.
It will be the responsibility of the International Olympic Committee to learn how to best integrate the social networks to be part of the Olympic experience.
Sylvia McNamee is Blogger at Mijo! Brands in Mexico.
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