You are awesome. No you really are. Without you a bunch of stuff wouldn't happen. And when it comes to sport you keep it going. You watch the games and go to them when you can, you buy the apparel and merchandise, you avidly follow the websites, and you convince your friends to watch.
So it's nice when you get something back.
We've discussed before how games on a weekend afternoon are quite nice. As are kids-go-for-free days and other fan appreciation events (at baseball games fan appreciation days are huge). But it all comes down to acknowledgment.
We just like to know that the players (and to a lesser extent the corporate folks) actually give a shit about us. We like them to wave at us when we chant their names, to sign autographs on the sidelines, to acquiesce to a quick photo. We don't want to be their best friend (although that would be cool), we don't need them to help us move house or take us to the airport. Heck we don't even really want a meaningful conversation beyond "Good game" "Thanks".
This is why I love sports stars on Twitter. I currently follow cycling legend Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) and American footballer Kerry Rhodes (@kerryrhodes). They have vastly different styles of communication.
Armstrong uses Twitter like a micro-blog. He talks about prepping for races, training regimes, live ride updates, and pics of, among other things, his new bike. Occasionally he'll respond to people, often people he knows (he only follows 42 people, while 24,000 follow him). But folks send him questions and general fan statements all the time.
Rhodes has a different approach. His tweets are much more like instant messaging. For example he sent out a tweet saying:
bout to go get light work out in.
This brought a slew of questions about what work out he was doing, what work outs people should try etc etc. And goddamn if Rhodes didn't answer all of them. This can make following his tweets hard (he's closing in on 500 tweets in a week) but it's also a real connection to the fans. At one point he linked to a YouTube clip so you could tell it was really him.
Obviously there is a self-interest aspect to this. The more connections you have to fans the better it can be for your wallet. Popular players draw fans which draws money and teams know this.
But even with that in mind the coolest thing this week was watching the Eagles Giants play-off game on the internet and sending Rhodes a casual tweet: "@kerryrhodes You gotta be loving watching the Eagles secondary" and got a response "@hadyngreen brian dawkins isnt playing well eli is missing recievers behind him but #27 and asante samuels is playing well". To put it in perspective this is like discussing scrums with Carl Hayman or fielding set-ups with Dan Vettori
There are quite a few sportspeople on Twitter and other social media (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube etc), how good they are at it though is variable.
Shame about the cricket being rained off and not on free-to-air. I had a brief discussion with a friend yesterday bout how having cricket on pay TV might hurt cricket more than other sports, simply because of the length of time it takes to play. Hence more people would rather log on to CricInfo or a similar service than sit in a pub all day. Thoughts?
Oh and I'm now doing a regular "bit" on the Monday Morning Glory show on bFM. Feel free to tell me if I suck or not.
Finally, is this the best cricket-related music video ever?