Twitter for Olympic Athletes: Distracting or not?

Gymnasts Jordyn Weiber (left) and Aly Raisman take a “selfie” on Instagram – an internet term for a picture of themselves.

I have been on a following spree on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every other social tool to find Olympic athletes, and especially the gymnasts. Being between the ages of 15 and 18, obviously their phones are attached to their hips and they have been tweeting and Instagram-ing each others every move. It is understandable, considering that they are world-class athletes and they are excited. However, is social media and their quick rise to fame going to distract them from their events and competition?

The Huffington Post came out with a great article which showcased past Olympians and their devotion to the games, not their cell phones. Sebastian Coe, past track and field Olympian, comments on his devotion to the competition: “From a personal perspective, when I was an athlete I just wanted complete and total focus,” he said. “I knew it was my time and that they don’t come around that often. If I was focusing on trying to defend a title I wouldn’t be reading Twitter, I wouldn’t be interested in it. Why would I?” Some other former Olympians defended these statements, adding that it is okay to talk with your friends and family, but checking Facebook is not a good idea. The Australian cycling team is not allowed to use Twitter during competition team, which I can assume starts on Friday with the beginning of the games.

Does this mean that the USA Women’s Gymnastics team will put down their phones in two days? Not likely. IN my opinion, their quick rise to fame has made them excited. I mean, what teenager these days isn’t excited about a new Twitter or Instagram follower? I know I am, and I get about 2 followers a week, if that. Could you imagine if you were getting hundreds of followers a day and subsequent comments on your photos? Appeal to your inner teenager and remember how excited these girls are for their social fame. However, just because I sympathize with their social glee doesn’t mean that I believe they should be distracted by social media.

For the sake of competition, lets hope these girls and other athletes can put down their computers and phones and focus on the games. Not only to win for the US, but to win for their own pride. Tomorrow is the day! Go team USA!

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