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Social Media and Sports Contracts

Guest Post by Elliot Solop

Over a week ago, ESPN had a great story on the impact of social media, specifically Twitter, on action sports athletes and their respective endorsement contracts. Action sports, in general, is still very much a growing breed of sports. Unlike the major sports, it receives a lot less of streamlined media exposure. There are many reasons why this could be; the difficulty of action sports in general, the fact that  it is still very much in the infancy stage (skateboarding dates back to the late 1940s), or maybe it is associated with the lack of big name labels endorsing the top extreme athletes. How many skateboarders or snowboarders can the average person rattle off their tongues in a normal day conversation? Maybe 1 to 2 (Tony Hawk and Shaun White), right? With the integration of social media, expect that all to change and don’t expect just the action sports world to change, but the whole SPORTSVERSE. (I just made a word up there, Sports + Universe= SPORTSVERSE).

Citing ESPN’s article, the latest endorsement contracts between the action sports athlete and the endorser include clauses stipulating monthly tweeting quotas in addition to potential four-figure bonuses for every 5,000 new followers the athlete attains on Twitter.  I love the outside the box thinking. This is just the beginning my friends.  Here’s who I think will be affected by the Social Media Effect:

1. Why stop at action athletes? If the use of Twitter and other social media outlets has only increased the popularity of action sports and their athletes, shouldn’t it even have a more profound effect on major sports? Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson uses his Twitter as his own personal journal and currently has 1,789,315 Twitter followers as of 1:13 PM Eastern Time. I’m sure “Ocho Cinco” could sell anything through Twitter at this point (even Chia Pets). But why stop at athletes? How about entertainers? Musicians? Writers?

2. Leagues. There is no question the internet has brought the world closer together. With the use of social media, professional sports leagues could expand upon their global presence. I have seen certain leagues take the initiative through social media already, but so much more can be done. Wouldn’t it be a great idea in the new NFL CBA that the owners stipulate that the players have a monthly tweeting quota advertising their respective team’s schedule of events and games? Not only would this be a great marketing initiative for the leagues, but would bring the fans closer to the players and the GAME.

3. Agents. As I mentioned previously, I really love the outside the box thinking with the social media clauses in the latest endorsement contracts. Social media, in general, provides a great and cheap resource for an agent or publicist to market their client base. To make money on top of it is a win-win for players and their hard working agents.

4. YOU. There is nothing bigger than your own personal brand. It is what you wear on the inside and outside everyday of your life.  Do it right, say the right things, and most of all be yourself. Who knows, you could be the next big Twitter superstar.

What makes social media and its various platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc) so great is that there is no hiding who you are or how you feel. For fans, we see the human side of players. We love the daily interactions, we love the sudden tirades about a loss, and we love that on Twitter, we are all the same.

Elliot Solop is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Sports Tomato.  He founded the site in the summer of 2010 hoping to provide a different outlook on the legal and business side of sports.

Twitter:@Elliot_Solop, @TheSportsTomato


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