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The growth of social media has affected both people and business: some of which are good; others bad.
The way that social media has impacted the sports industry has been profound. In 2015, one-fifth (20.5%) of internet users in the US were expected to have Twitter accounts. This number has grown from 15.2% in 2012, and is projected to rise to 24.2% by 2018. Over a third (37%) of Twitter users will buy from a brand they follow.
According to an infographic published by Betting Sites 56.8% of customers think social media is an impactful technology on sports; 61% of sports viewers follow sports online; and, 93.3% of global sports leaders believe that social media engagement of fans will grow in the next 5–10 years. They also revealed that in 2016, views per share ratio by 40% show more sharing of sports clips.
The increased impact of social media to engage people in sports could bring about potential positive benefits to mental health. Rohit Sagoo from Anglia Ruskin University outlined the mental health benefits that people could derive from snooker. He stressed that: ‘The kind of learning of the game of snooker can suggest that it contributes to positive mental health, as the player is on learning journey that distracts them from any issues that surround their mental health. This learning is continual throughout the game so one can say it attributes to cognitive development as well as a focus away from the negative aspects that surround mental health.’
Exercise is also an effective way to address mental health at universities, as explained by Martin Bond of York St John University. Indeed, universities can provide an inclusive environment for those experiencing mental health issues to engage in sports and physical activities and provide ‘real world’ opportunities for students to enhance their personal and professional development.
To allow current and the next generation of students to reach their full potential, universities need to be aware of the growing concern about the mental health of students. As well as having a responsibility with regards to the well-being of their students, universities also have a health-promoting role to play within the local community that they serve.
Kay Mallinson, a sports therapist, emphasised the importance of sports therapy and that we need to support our bodies and all the wonderful capabilities they have to maintain a happy, fulfilled and active lifestyle.
With social media allowing us to be more engaged in a variety of sports activities we could harness more its physical and mental health benefits. However, Timothy Behan cautions that: ‘for social media to have a positive effect on professional sports teams, the people in charge must hire the right people with skills to run their accounts.
‘These people should also teach seminars to the players so they know how the organisation wants its members to conduct themselves. On the business side of things, there can be many benefits to bring new fans leading to more profits and interest. If social media can be used for the right reasons, every sport has potential to grow.’
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.