To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question
Social media has been blamed in instances for the mixed performances of the Australian team during the London Olympics. Tony Salerno reports.
Twitter and Facebook — the popular social networking sites that provided athletes with the opportunity to communicate with family and friends throughout their campaigns at the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Following a dour campaign, this technological habit raised questions it was causing more harm than good.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) encouraged athletes to use social media during the London games when it released its social media and internet guidelines for the 2012 Olympics.
Since the IOC approved social networking, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has received media scrutiny surrounding the actions of Australian athletes on Twitter.
AOC Media Director, Mike Tancred, recently told the Daily Telegraph that AOC President John Coates was “trying to embrace social media,” despite its negative press.
Prior to the Olympics, swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kendrink Monk were reprimanded by the AOC for posting pictures of themselves posing with guns on Facebook.
Furthermore, the opening days of the Games also started controversially, with the decision to name Lauren Jackson as Australia’s flag bearer allegedly being leaked on twitter before the official announcement.
Australia’s results on the opening days of competition also did not live up to expectation, with the Australian swimming team only managing to win one gold medal between them.
A number of gold medal prospects turned to silver as Australia’s best swimmers like Emily Seebohm and James Magnussen failed to deliver on the big stage, but still achieved a great result nonetheless.
Ms Seebohm was unsuccessful in winning the 100m-backstroke final, after she swam the fastest time in the heats before touching the wall second in the gold medal race.
Emily Seebohm did not concede social media was a distraction but it did make her complacent before she had
“I don’t know what to say..I feel honoured to be holding a Silver medal but I’m disappointed that I couldn’t do better!.sorry for the wake up!” Ms Seebohm tweeted.
Emily Seebohm did not concede social media was a distraction but it did make her complacent before she had swum her race.
Anna Meares, one of only a handful of Australia’s Olympic gold medallists, waited until her Olympic campaign ended before she returned to Twitter.
“I’m back online! Am blown away by the many messages of support. Thank u all so very much! Woohoo! London Gold baby!” Ms Meares tweeted after her Olympic success.
But social media is not the enemy.
Fans have been able to send ‘hero messages’ to their idols, and provide them with support and inspiration before competing in events.
Twitter has also been a source of admiration and appreciation from fans given the efforts of the Australian Olympic Team.
Ms Seebohm has been very interactive during the campaign with her tweets boosting her country’s unity and patriotism.
The ability to rally the Australian people is a testament to her and the culture the Olympics has developed.
The tweets have not just rallied behind players during competition, but mainstream media outlets had criticised swimming legend Leisel Jones’s figure before the Games.
Fans and current Olympians who idolised Ms Jones were quick to defend the four-time gold medallist via the social media site.
“I’m embarrassed by the Aussie media having a go at Leisel, one of Australia’s greatest Olympians. Support athletes don’t drag them down.” Ms Schlanger tweeted.
Social media, whether positive or negative, has created a media circus surrounding Australia’s Olympic campaign.
Highly respected American sports magazine ‘Sports Illustrated’ predicted Australia would win 16 gold medals, but with the final count in, Australia finished with seven.
Actions on both Twitter and Facebook have left Australian athletes open to immense scrutiny following their failure to live up to the standards of the media at London 2012.