After an exhausting week at work, all I wanted to do was relax. However, there was less than an hour until my favorite team took the field for one of its biggest games of the season, and I had an open invite to join a few friends at a local sports bar. Should I stay or should I go?
I decided to sit down and make my decision, but it didn’t take long for the warmth and comfort of the couch to make the decision for me. I was a little bummed that I’d miss out on the animated cheering and numerous high-fives that came with the sports bar experience, but I had another way of interacting with fellow fans that provided plenty of entertainment.
The popular social media platform boasts around 330 million users globally, with its free access and ease of use being two of its major selling points. As a sports fan, Twitter offers me an experience that can’t be matched. Not only do I have access to real-time fan reaction from all around the world, but I can find instant information from beat writers and other media personnel covering my favorite teams.
And while those features are excellent, there’s one particular draw that stands out above the rest—direct lines of communication with coaches and athletes. If I want to let LeBron James know that he’s the most overrated basketball player in history (he’s not), I can tap a couple of buttons and let @KingJames know how I feel. If I want to be more helpful, I can send him my expert advice on what type of defense he should play against his opponent. It doesn’t really matter if I get a response or not. The most appealing part is that there’s no middleman, and there’s never been another time in history where it’s been this simple to interact with professional players and coaches.
Of course, just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. Since lines of communication are easier than ever, it can inevitably lead people to use Twitter to spread negativity. Trolling and verbal abuse can run wild, which can lead to some interactions getting out of hand in a hurry.
And while following a sporting event via the platform can be convenient, it does lack the authentic feel of the face-to-face experience. Whether it’s being in the crowd at a game, or simply handing out with friends at a bar, social media reactions from random people can’t fully replace the energy of an in-person audience. But those potential drawbacks don’t stop Twitter from being an entertaining alternative when the in-person experience isn’t possible.
The wide range of emotions and reactions on display throughout a particular game are priceless. There are optimists, pessimists, and those who take fandom to a new level with clever GIFs and Photoshop efforts. Plus, in the heat of the moment, unfiltered reactions can produce plenty of new and novel insults.
And apparently, I’m not the only one who understands the appeal of the in-game Twitter experience. Sports leagues around the world are beginning to stream live games directly through the platform, which gives fans the ultimate viewing experience in one place. As more leagues jump on board, Twitter’s user base will inevitably grow.
Replicating the in-person sports viewing experience is impossible, but I’m convinced that Twitter packs enough of a punch to be an excellent alternative. I can interact with fans of my team, get instant updates on a player injury, and become immersed in all aspects of the game. Best of all? I can do it from the comfort of my couch, or anywhere else in the world that offers an internet connection.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to settle in with my popcorn and prepare for the big game. And don’t worry, if LeBron starts slacking on defense, I’ll be sure to let him know about it.