Headline Tennis

Twitter Isn’t A Fad, But What Exactly Is It?

Can Twitter officially be considered a game changer?  Some of my clients refuse to join the service.  After hearing their reasoning, I personally don’t blame them.  I am not ready to call the social network a game changer just yet.  Until I see it bring a substantial benefit to a professional athlete, I’ll call it a high risk, low reward, fun, and interactive service.  But other see it as a game changer, not only for athletes, but for public relations professionals and sports agents.

I don’t think that Twitter is a temporary fad.  It has expanded beyond the early adopters and reached the mainstream adoption.  In fact, sports fans seem to have taken to Twitter more than most.  Maybe it is the ability to get updates instantly.  Perhaps it is to connect with the players they are never able to converse with through a television.

Since I do not read a lot about tennis or cover it much on this site, I enjoyed receiving a story from a reader about how Twitter has affected that particular sport.  Apparently, Twitter has become enormously popular amongst the sport’s participants.  Even tennis reporters, who once stayed as far away as possible, are now trying to type messages that are 140 characters or less.  Having access to athletes is fantastic, and when athletes take the time to reply to their fans who ask questions on Twitter, the power of the service truly takes shape.

I asked the writer of the tennis piece, Aaress Lawless, to chime in about what Twitter might mean for agents.  This was the reply:

For the sports agent, Twitter is a whole new playing field to monitor. Instead of being able to carefully track and enhance a client’s image through crafted press statements, Twitter gives the athlete, not the agent, the power to conduct public relations. Case in point: Serena Williams. Serena is a one-woman marketing machine on Twitter and has learned how to effectively use the service to promote her brand. For an agent, this is a boon as it keeps the client constantly on the public radar.

But the unfiltered messages from an athlete can occasionally give a sports agent cause for chagrin as well. Athletes today need to maintain personal access to their fans—-and smart agents will recognize this and work with their clients by offering direction, not filtering when it comes to their online tweeting. A few handy tips on what to say and more importantly, what not to say can ensure that the use of Twitter is mutually beneficial for both sides.

I think that an agent can guide his clients in the formulation of creative ways to engage fans – contests, promotions, surveys, etc.  Best practices training is a must.  After teaching the athlete what is permissible and what is not, though, the phone and its Twitter application is in the athlete’s hands.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

6 replies on “Twitter Isn’t A Fad, But What Exactly Is It?”

Twitter is a great medium for gaining fans and recognization, but it seems as though the only athletes that receive hype are the ones that use it in a negative manner. Clearly, most agents would rather their clients be seen in a positive light; especially if they aren’t superstars. Athletes that use Twitter in a positive way can definitely become more recognized by fans and put themselves in a position to progress themselves in their sport.

It may only be 140 characters, but I bet there are still going to be a lot of fans asking athletes questions. Too many fans for the athlete to possibly address each one individually.

No way to know if someone received your response, but if you go to, login, and click @[YourUserName] (on the right sidebar), you will see who has responded to you.

Thanks, Darren, for the write-up! It will definitely be interesting to see how sports media relations evolves as the web continues to change. It has it’s pros and its cons, but thus far in tennis, Twitter has proven to be a vital asset for not just the players, but fans and the media.

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