A study about to be published in the March issue of the International Journal of Sport Communication (IJSC) gives a fascinating insight into the way that fans are interacting directly with their sporting heroes using Twitter during major sporting events.
The authors tracked the “tweets” sent out by a selection of English-speaking riders during the 3 week Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) cycle race in May 2009 and their analysis revealed that Twitter served to increase immediacy between riders and fans.
This occurred as competitors provided commentary and opinions, fostered interactivity and provided insider perspectives for fans.
In the past fans’ access to their favourite was limited to what they could observe and consume from television, sports talk radio and print media.
This is no longer the case with the advent of new communication technologies which now provide fans with unprecedented access to professional athletes.
Just for the record, American cycling legend Lance Armstrong led the way in the tweeting league with averaging more than 14 tweets a day – 394 in all which accounted for over 50% of the total.
Unsurprising then that he should also have the greatest number of Twitter followers. What is surprising perhaps is the total of loyal followers he amassed – an amazing 1,207,445.
Sadly though for his legion of loyal followers Lance didn’t win the actual race – that honour went instead to Denis Menchov.
Incidentally, Italian rider Italian Danilo Di Luca who finished second, clearly had things other than Twitter on his mind. He has just been banned for two years for testing positive for illegal blood booster CERA during last May’s race.