Ben Chessor
The Navigator

I remember when Twitter first became popular, how stupid I thought it was. I was certain that it would be just another internet fad, much like Myspace or Nexopia. But in 2014, Twitter is in its eighth year of existence and doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon. If anything, Twitter is becoming more popular than ever before.

My opinion of Twitter has changed drastically over the last few years. The main reason for my change of heart happened when Twitter became a useful tool in the world of sport. Twitter has allowed a generation of sports fans to become closer to the sports and athletes they love.

Twitter has had some very interesting effects on the sports world.

In 2009, the National Football League passed a rule banning players from tweeting during a game. The rule also prohibited players from tweeting in the 90 minutes before or after a game. The NFL’s no-tweet rule was the first of its kind. But the league deemed it necessary after one of its players, Chad Ochocinco (who legally changed his last name to Ochocino to match his jersey number, 85) stated that he was going to start live-tweeting during games.

Twitter usage has become mandatory amongst sports writers and analysts. This has changed the way sports fans get their news. The latest signings and transactions in the sports world become nationwide news moments after they happen.

Sometimes, athletes directly answer tweets posted by members of the media. Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri did just that this summer when he denied reports from TSN’s Bob Mckenzie that he was seeking over five million dollars a season in contract negotiations. Not exactly a scathing response from Kadri, but the fact that he took the time to respond to Mckenzie turned some heads in the sports world.

To see the effect social media can have on a professional athlete’s career, British Columbian sports fans don’t have to look far. Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is a great example of how an athlete’s use of Twitter can affect his public image. Once one of the league’s most ridiculed players, Luongo’s humorous and often self-directed tweets have been the highlight of the Canucks’ season so far and quickly made the Olympic goaltender one of the league’s most popular players.

With Twitter only seeming to increase in popularity, it’s a good time to be a sports fan. Professional athletes are taking advantage of the ability to communicate with their fans on a more personal level. Some are just making better use of it than others.

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