Getting to know today’s biggest sports icons beyond their play on the field has never been easier than it is today. The emergence of social media in sports empowers youth to follow teams and their players at an intensity level that has never been accessible before. The popularity and mass consumption of social media is what makes it one of the most important tools for connecting professional sports and youth. The ability to engage with fans of all ages from almost anywhere has enhanced fan interaction and resulted in a unique display of fan loyalty where youth are holding their sports idols to the utmost highest regard. There is more opportunity than ever for athletes to further connect with their fans and showcase themselves in the public eye. The integration of social media in the world of sports makes professional athletes some of the biggest influencers and role models for youth. 

The role of athletes as influencers can foster so many benefits for children when an athlete understands how to use social media positively. Social media platforms give youth the ability to get a glimpse behind the scenes and beyond what the mainstream media is portraying. Understanding the day-to-day lives of their sports icons offers role-model-seeking youths an invaluable learning experience that wouldn’t be possible without social media. The displays of relentless work ethic and professionalism on the playing field and in life by many top-tier athletes gives children a high standard to strive for in their own personal day-to-day lives. The ability to witness these positive characteristics first hand from such prominent figures gives a unique motivation to apply the same positive characteristics in their own life. Whether in school, sports, or in their own community, the lessons learned from following the world’s greatest athletes on social media can enhance youth’s lives. 

Social media is a blessing and a curse. When used properly social media can be a connecting force, bringing youth closer to their childhood heroes. Unfortunately not every athlete under the spotlight understands how to use it positively. As positive as social media can be in sports for youth, negative interactions and comments can spread just as fast. These incidents are often highlighted in mainstream media. It’s the responsibility of youth and their parents to be able to distinguish between the positive and negative, to take the positive with a full heart and let the negative fall by the wayside. 

It boils down to understanding how to educate youth and incorporate social media into sports in a positive manner that benefits them. Fortunately, lessons on sports and social media are now initiated at a very young age as there are many youth sports teams using social media platforms to enhance the youth sporting experience. This can serve as both a learning experience for the youth and their parents involved. The early emergence of sports and social media at a young age is an opportunity for parents to teach youth good habits, and create habits that focus on the benefits of social media in sports.