The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article up this week about athletes using the internet for direct communication with their fans:
As the MySpace generation reaches professional sports, many athletes are maintaining website profiles and blogs. Along with providing a direct link to fans, these personalized Internet entries serve as an excuse to limit interviews with mainstream media while also offering the ability to deliver unfiltered messages.Bryant used his site to acknowledge it would be tough to leave the Lakers — but he would if it meant playing on a winning team. Other reports are purely personal. Tiger Woods announced the birth of his daughter. And Greg Oden discussed the pain of having his tonsils taken out.
“They come off good if the athletes know what they are doing,” said Will Leitch, editor of deadspin.com, a website that often links to players’ websites. “The mistake is when you see people that still have their college MySpace profile up and all of a sudden they are in the NFL or MLB.”
Indeed, while posting messages is often intended to clear controversy, it occasionally causes it.
This is a topic I’ve covered before, in terms of musicians in these posts (among others):
My take on this is that it can work very well if the image the star builds on his or her site is consistent with the public persona that’s working for them already, and otherwise it can be a mess. Or as I was quoted as saying in this article:
“There’s a fine line between being candid and getting yourself in trouble, and it depends a lot on what your image is,” said Nancy Baym, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas. “There is a reason professionals usually handle that stuff.”
I strongly believe that the opportunity for direct relationship building between fans and artists, athletes, public figures, is a good thing, but I like how this article points out its potential pitfalls.