In Sports World, Shaq Stands Tall on Twitter
On Thursday, the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings kicked off the 2010 NFL season at the Louisiana Superdome. Coming off their Super Bowl victory last season, the Saints beat the Vikings 14-9.
In the off-the-field Twitter game, the Saints also conquer the Vikings.
Twenty-four Saints players have Twitter accounts, compared with 20 members of the Vikings, according to Twitter-Athletes.com. In fact, Saints running back Reggie Bush is the fifth most popular pro athlete on Twitter, with more than 1.3 million followers.
However, it’s an NBA superstar who towers over every other pro athlete on Twitter, based on rankings by Twitter-Athletes.com. Boston Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal boasts more than 3.2 million Twitter followers.
Next in line among pro athletes on Twitter is cyclist Lance Armstrong (more than 2.6 million followers). Rolling in at No. 3 is skateboarder Tony Hawk (nearly 2.2 million followers). Brazilian soccer star Kaká ranks fourth (nearly 2 million followers).
A recent poll by Burst Media found that one-fourth of sports fans have followed or do follow their favorite athletes through social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.
Not surprisingly, tracking sports stars through social media is more common among younger fans, according to Burst Media. The prevalence is 37 percent for 18- to 24-year-old sports fans, 33 percent for 25- to 34-year-olds and 27 percent for 35- to 44-year-olds.
But while Twitter and Facebook let pro athletes engage with their adoring fans, some jocks’ online comments can put them in the social-media doghouse.
SB Nation writer Clark Brooks recently wrote that some athletes’ tweets are causing headaches for their teams’ PR flacks. Among notable online offenders are the NBA’s Carmelo Anthony and the NFL’s Chad Ochocinco.
“Carmelo Anthony and some other athletes might indeed provide too many examples of Twitter gone wrong,” Ronda Racha Penrice wrote on TheGrio.com, “but the medium and sports can mix.”Continued on the next page