Social Media – and Recreational vs Competitive Sports
I love having coffee with my wife each morning! We get into some lively discussions, and we can definitely have opposing views. In some cases, we can even agree on “why things are”, but then wish they weren’t that way. Today’s discussion leaned towards the debate of recreational versus competitive sports and the resultant preparation kids have entering adulthood.
In the “old days” when we were walking to school in the snow barefoot, and uphill both ways, sports had a different priority. You played sandlot football and baseball, pick-up basketball, and took the old wooden rackets to the local beat-up & cracked tennis courts to hit tennis balls that were gray with age. Around 7th grade, you would start playing football, basketball and maybe running track (sorry, fewer “other sports” in south Texas at the time). Since I lived in Texas, I lived and breathed football throughout high school, and the school had great results. I’ll discuss small town football pride in a different post.
Lost in the 1985 State Championship as a senior
Now, flash forward 20 years. My wife and I coached soccer at the recreational level for years. We taught fundamentals we were passionate about (teamwork, winning with the assist, spreading the field, sportsmanship), but we had one practice and one game per week. Lots of success, lots of fun, and our “alumni” still like to get together to play co-ed soccer and talk a little smack. However, these players were not prepared to compete at the high school level with kids that had been playing “club” since they were 7 years old! Some of these youth football players have helmets bigger and heavier than they are!!
Our coffee discussion this morning centered around who is better prepared for life in the workforce. As much as I reminisce about the days where we could “just be kids” with our sports, I contend that the competitive athlete is better positioned to succeed in today’s workforce. Provided they guard against burnout, these athletes will know how to persevere, establish goals, use teamwork and resolve conflicts. I recently attended an Economic and Employment Panel Discussion hosted by the RMIMA. There was some discussion that employment may move more to “project based” work versus the “steady employment until you get the gold watch” that our grandparents knew. In those cases, I am wagering that the more competitive minded will probably have a much lower unemployment rate. They will be better at establishing goals, seeking training, reading how-to books, and even seeking unpaid internships with a long-term view for employment.
So how do we correlate this recreational vs competitive mindset to the social media world.
- Determine your Goals: As much as I believe in competitive sports, I have also seen great benefits at the recreational level. With proper coaching, the casual players can develop skills, build self-esteem and establish friendships they can carry for years. I love seeing these kids get back together several years later and fall back into the same casual banter while enjoying a sport they love.
Have a Laugh or Go the Extra Mile: I used to catch grief from my recreational players if I had them run a warm-up lap before practice. And they didn’t want to do drills, they wanted to scrimmage all practice. What happened to working up a sweat in the warm-up, going through drills, scrimmage until you could barely stand…and then running wind sprints afterwards ?
- If your goal is to build friendships, and share some photos and ideas on a social network, then recreational consumption is for you!!
- However, if you intend for social media to become a part of your branding strategy, then you need to work towards defined goals. Your metrics can be website traffic, click-throughs, Klout score, followers/fans, revenue from social media sources or simply turning around bad customer experiences by meeting your customers where they are talking about you.
Don’t Worry about the Score or Grit your Teeth and Go For It: The final score isn’t tallied in a lot of recreational sports. It’s all about the fun and uplifting experience versus the final score. In competitive sports, you learn to take losing personal…and to do what it takes to win within the confines of good sportsmanship.
- If you are a recreational social media consumer, you are having fun with checking out everybody’s vacation photos, online chatting, and tweeting where you are headed on a Friday night or your exasperation with your favorite sports team.
- If you are using social media strategically, you are committing to read blogs/books to become more adept (I think Lon Safko’s book The Social Media Bible is a fantastic primer). You are using products like HootSuite or TweetDeck (and Pulse Analytics for heavy-duty social media monitoring) to be more efficient with your publishing and consumption.
- If you are recreational, who cares about a Klout score; in fact, everybody knows it’s supposed to be spelled Clout, right?!?
- If you are tasked with your company’s social media strategy, you are continuously focused on providing new, insightful and engaging content to your community. You become a brand advocate practically 24×7.
So where do you fall on the recreational vs competitive discussion regarding how it prepare our kids? Where do you fall on the social media spectrum? I look forward to the commentary.