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3 Tennis Tips for Good Social Media Sportsmanship

3 Tennis Tips for Good Social Media Sportsmanship

I recently wrapped up what is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekends of each year – a weekend tennis tournament in Steamboat Springs with my lovely wife (and mixed doubles partner).  We got a bye in the first round, because we’ve had decent tournament and great league results, but then we ran into a “tournament regular”. He and his partner beat my wife and me in a tough 3-setter…10-8 in the final tiebreak. The featured image on this blog shows me and this tournament regular right before we started the 3rd set tiebreaker. When I saw the smiles in this picture, I knew I could come up with 3 Tennis Tips for Good Social Media Sportsmanship.

1. Bad Bounces

One thing I did not expect this weekend was to play my matches on clay courts. I played all of my matches on hard courts last year. I’m also not a fan of the clay surface because it takes away our best weapons (power and quickness) and introduces bad bounces! Clay is an irregular surface, and the lines consist of tape nailed down to the court. The ball will skid off of the tape, or it will hit a nail and bounce straight up. You think you have a shot lined up, and all of a sudden – the ball isn’t where you expected it!

Social Media Sportsmanship: What do you do when someone takes something you said, or wrote, out of context? If you are a major brand, the “bad bounce” can reach epic proportions as trolls come out from under their rocks with torches and pitchforks to take your brand down. It’s time to acknowledge that you lost the point, but you haven’t lost the match! In this case, accept the possibility for a misunderstanding – and then explain the full context of your statements. Or simply own up to the fact that you may need to change your perspective based upon legitimate feedback.

2. Bad Elements

When you play tennis outside, you get your share of wind gusts and blinding sun. If playing on clay, you can actually continue playing in light rain. I’ve seen strong enough winds that would blow the tennis ball back to my opponent’s court before I got a chance to touch it (resulting in the opponent winning the point). I’ve also had that Colorado sun shining so brightly that I would just swing where I “hoped” the ball would be – since I was effectively blind when looking up for overheads or service tosses.

Social Media Sportsmanship: Mariano Rivera once said “The sun shines on good people and bad people, and it rains on both, too.” The “great” thing about bad elements is that all participants experience it to the same degree. Get a high profile case study of a failed digital marketing strategy – and every agency and strategist is immediately lumped into the “charlatan” category if they propose a digital strategy (FYI, seen this happen with datawarehouse projects, too). It is assumed that you will take too long, cost too much, and get no return on the investment. When this happens, be prepared with your SUCCESSFUL case study and testimonials. Then have your strategy outlined so simply that your clients look at it and say “well, that’s common sense”. Put it in terms they can understand, and then execute the strategy and measure results. Communicate progress to your clients – often!

3. Bad Calls

Take the technology of the modern tennis racquet, and the thin air if you are playing in a mountain town, and the tennis ball moves pretty fast. When players have a split-second to try and play their own shot, while calling their own lines, they sometimes make bad line calls. In most cases, they are inadvertent bad calls versus malicious and calculated attempts to gain a competitive advantage. If you are playing on a clay court, you can “check the mark” to verify the court. Otherwise, you just have to “suck it up” and move past the bad call.

Social Media Sportsmanship: Besides the loss of a point due to a bad line call, the secondary concern is the escalation of competitive tempers. For the loser of the point, they are angry at their undeserved loss. For the winner of the point, they are angry because they feel their integrity was called into question when the loser questioned the call. When you can’t “check the mark”, like you can on a clay court, you have to accept the judgment call. If you ever want to see polar opposites on judgment calls in social media, write a blog post on “Influence and Influence Scoring”. Tempers will flare as opponents strongly defend their viewpoint – and those tempers may cross the line where they question the integrity and intelligence of all opposing views. You are free to stand by your views in these scenarios. Just recognize that your conviction will not necessarily change the opposing view. Know when “enough is enough” and step away from the debate.

As we played this mixed doubles match, we had people in the stands that knew both teams. Because the match was competitively played, with camaraderie and good sportsmanship, the fans were able to cheer for both teams. We brought honor and integrity to the game.

Bring honor and integrity to your social game, and may your good social media sportsmanship result in a lot of fans always cheering for you!


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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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