Social Medias’ Growing Impact on High School Sports
“It was a dream come true, to be honest,” were the words of senior captain Penny Sedgwick of the girls’ soccer team. “It was just unreal.”
Four years ago, the girls soccer team at Minnehaha was more of something that you would do just for fun. Now, from the hard work and dedication of many players on the team, the girls soccer team has created a culture unlike they have ever seen before.
The soccer team is a prime example of sports teams benefiting from using social media to promote their brand.
“They wouldn’t do announcements after school unless we told them to, so we figured that there better be another way to tell people when our games were,” Sedgwick said.
In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, high school sports are returning to popularity as crowds are gathering again in arenas and stadiums. Due to the state of high school sports last year with fewer games and reduced schedules, there is lots of interest in how teams have progressed by many high-school students and fans.
“I think that there has been a huge difference in the number of fans we have this year versus last year,” junior Violet Sahlstrom of the volleyball team said. “Our fan base really grew because of all we did on social media.”
There is a clear connection between the impact that social media has and how that affects the level of interest in certain activities.
Because it is so easy to access social media now, many teams use social media to capture attention from people who may not normally check them out. Many varsity level teams have created a social media platform on multiple different apps. For example, the girls’ soccer team has gained a relatively big following, over 200 followers, on Instagram, and so has the volleyball team.
For those wondering what these accounts are used for, these accounts are posting when their games are, special things that are going on with the team and other miscellaneous things to keep followers intrigued. Senior captain Lydia Schroeder thinks that there has been a direct impact between the number of fans that have come to the games and the things they put out on their social media account.
“It has allowed a lot of people to get informed when they otherwise may not be informed,” Schroeder said. The teams have also been giving incentives for fans to show up, such as free pizza for the student section.
Although there are many benefits to having a social media account, there can also be some negative impacts around sports. The main consequence of all of this exposure is the pressure that is put on the athletes. When everywhere you go there are cameras, there’s bound to be pressure added on to kids.
With pressure comes the potential to have an impact on how the athletes perform. It is hard when you are constantly being judged on how many points you had, how many goals you scored, how fast you ran and more. Although the pressure to perform is strong, it doesn’t phase the volleyball team.
“Yeah there is tons of pressure on us,” said Sahlstrom, “but at the same time for me, that is super motivating because then I want to play well.”
“We play better when there are more fans,” Schroeder said. “The encouragement and the environment is just much, much better.” Just like everything, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, and team chemistry plays a lot into how people play.
“We really came together and had confidence in ourselves,” said Sedgwick. “It was really nice to be a part of that.”
Despite the growing desire for popularity on social media, this idea was echoed by many freshmen boys who said that they would still rather win a state basketball championship than have many thousands of followers on Instagram.
You can’t run away from social media, it is everywhere, but there are many different ways you can channel that in your sport. Athletes can make the best of it by using it to inform people and make it fun, or they can internalize the pressure it puts on them and turn it into performance. Neither answer is wrong, but today, there is a need for more positivity and fun.
“It’s fun,” Schroeder remarked. “We have fun.”