Sport goes beyond live games – with rise of social media comes increased engagement and access to non-casual fans through broader reach, all day every day. It has democratized sports commentary, meaning anyone from anywhere in the world can communicate, with executives, athletes or other fans and establish him/herself as an authority or subject matter expert. Everyone’s opinion is equally as important, limited only by the number of keystrokes. And in a time when everyone says our attention spans are short, 140 characters can say a lot. A well-crafted tweet can pack a powerful punch. A hastily posted Instagram is worth a thousand words. Gone are the days when social media was considered the lowest rung of content. Now, it reigns supreme. And why? Because one has ubiquitous access and instantaneous engagement.
As one of the first sports to revolutionize content, women's soccer utilized social media as its primary means of communication. More for necessity than innovation, the franchises Tweeted draft picks, game announcements and ticket promotions. It needed to get the word out, fast. And so women's soccer and its avid fans began to flock to Twitter to get the latest news. But with that, comes a tremendous responsibility of those in power to adapt, to reflect upon commentary and to react.
At a time when women's soccer has massive potential to take off, it seems it is up to the key decision-makers with the vision and insight to leverage the possibilities for future growth. In years past, the decision-makers would be broadcasters, sponsors and owners. Now, in 2015, the consumers hold the power. Want women's sports to succeed? Buy tickets, merchandise and demand more. We live in a day-and-age where consumers dictate trends.
NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush says he "plans to join Twitter soon to better connect with fans and stay current." Never before in history was it necessary for fans to have a say on the goings-on in a league. But now they dictate the future. Players even flock to the Internet to voice opinions, as was the case with Alex Morgan vocalizing her distain for the league hotel choices featuring bed bugs and mold. Years prior, it was Ella Masar explaining her magicJack experience. Players are not restrained but in fact liberated by social media. It enables them to speak freely and voice concerns and major issues. If players could leverage this platform to establish broader change and perhaps create a Players Union, then we would know the league is truly here for the long haul. The greatest opportunity for the NWSL is to listen to the players and their desires, because its future rests within their hands.