They say that an athlete’s time at the top is limited so it is only fair that they make hay while the sun shines. Yet the dawn of social media has created a storm cloud which could harm the harvest.
Following the report into why Australia’s athletes under performed at the 2012 London Olympic Games it was uncovered that many athletes were staying up at night tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming. Possibly not the best preparation the night before an Olympic heat or final.
This was not a new phenomenon, at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup the players were only allowed two hours of internet access, and this threw many of the young players in a tailspin as their preferred form of communication was cut off. It presented a new challenge for the coaching staff.
It has been reported that there may well be a ban on Social Media use in the Olympic village at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, and a generation that has grown up with this form of communication is understandably not happy. For starters those athletes who have used Social media to enhance their profile, and have achieved stunning numbers of followers, have also gained lucrative sponsorship packages on the back of the reach their profile has. So to prevent them using this vehicle is going to diminish their earning potential.
Hockeyroo and former member of the Not The Footy Show team member Anna Flanagan, who has over 51,000 Instagram followers and over 20,000 followers on Twitter, not surprisingly has spoken out against the possible ban. “I think it would be disappointing if they put bans on it because you are denying the public that insight,” Flanagan was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph. She also was quoted as saying that it would be a “disservice to the sport.”
Maybe her comments are the result of the Olympic Games being a quadrennial event. In other words the gap between Olympic Games sees change happen so fast in the World today that things cannot possibly stay the same.
The Olympic Village has always been, according to those privileged to experience it, a truly unique place. No media are allowed at any time. So the athletes can mingle and wander around without any pressure from fans, autograph hunters or the paparazzi. Most who have experienced the Olympic Village have said it is a unique environment, in that you as an elite athlete are mingling with other elite athletes from a myriad of sports and yet you can relax and simply go your own way with no pressures or interference. You can focus solely on your goal, an Olympic final and the possibility of a medal.
There are other Olympians who had raised the issue of how Social Media could well change the Olympics forever after the London Games. Once the games have come to a close it is no surprise that the biggest party of all gets underway in the Olympic village, and tales of what transpires have in the main been kept among the athletes. Social media could change that with either an athlete looking to make a fast buck, or one on the way to retirement seizing an opportunity, with pictures taken on mobile phones being sold to the scandal-hungry press. This would indeed be a great shame as these athletes deserve the right to let off a bit of steam without prying eyes after dedicating themselves to the Olympic dream for four or eight years.
Would banning social media really be a disservice to the sport? Or does this comment made by Ms Flanagan simply reflect the changing world, and how the traditions of old have no place in the modern world.
She may feel that fans deserve a look into the Olympic village and what goes on, but in time she may reflect and come to the same conclusion as many who have walked that path before, that it is a special place to be a part of and there is no place for outsiders. It is a privilege to be a part of it and the uniqueness of the Olympic Village and the privacy afforded the athletes is sacrosanct.