AUGUST 15, 2011

Since Pierre de Coubertin re-ignited the Olympic Flame in 1896, the Olympian has become a central point of inspiration and hope around the world.  Up until 1994, the drawback of the modern Olympic model was that it only highlighted the inspiration every four years.  In 1994, a split of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games was made and all of a sudden, the Olympic Spirit was captured and held close to the heart of the world every two years.  But something happened right around the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games that has since changed the power of the Olympians and their status amongst the global consciousness.

What was this change you may ask?  Well, it was something that in February of 2009 the majority of the population wouldn’t have had any idea what you were talking about.  By February of 2010, as the 21st Winter Olympic Games were lighting the caldron, a significant amount of people were beginning to learn about this phenomenon.  And as I’m writing this blog, according to Azita Ardakani (@Azita), founder of Love Social (@lovesocial), there are over 200 million members of this medium today.  By now you know exactly what I’m talking about…it’s none other than Twitter.  And that’s not to mention the over 750 million people on Facebook- that’s more than double the population of the entire United States!  In these worlds- Olympians, fans and media co-exist in a world where open communication and lifestyle are the key to more followers and in-turn, more inspiration- all in just 140 characters.  All of a sudden the power of the Olympian isn’t just one 3-week period every two or four years, but it’s everyday.  And for many Tweeting Olympians, multiple times per day!

But what does this mean?  It’s a bit complicated and completely simple at the same time, but what it shows is that Olympians want to communicate with each other and with their fans.  Once upon a time and back in the day- all the way in 2009, most summer and winter athletes didn’t interact at all.  You may be surprised to know, but most athletes really didn’t know each other in the slightest way.  But all of a sudden you have bobsledders cheering on cyclists and swimmers cheering on speed skaters.  You have track athletes complimenting each other and wishing anyone the best after a tough race or a debilitating injury.  Take a look at some of the screen shots pulled in just a few minute search of my fellow Olympians…

Soccer Star Alex Morgan

Speed Skater Catherin Raney

Olympic Bronze Medalist Bobsledder Elana Meyers

Usain Bolt

Olympian Track Cyclist Giddeon Massie

Olympic Legends Summer Sanders And Apolo Ohno Supporting Eachother

Olympic Bronze Medalist Hurdler David Oliver

The question is, what will happen next?  How will this new medium bring together the world’s Olympians?  A good example is the education program I have started, Classroom Champions (@ClassroomChamps).  It has had two of its participants come from interactions on Twitter.  These athletes, Giddeon Massie (@GiddeonMassie) and David Oliver (@doliversub13) have said that they believe it is their responsibility, with the position they have gained in life through sport, to help inspire the next generation.  After watching them on twitter for a few weeks, I learned more about their personalities and drive than I could possibly gather with phone calls or emails.  I approached them online and it sparked the conversation that led to their involvement.  Soon enough, postings of their videos inspiring classrooms across the country will be posted via Twitter and Facebook…and the cycle will be complete.

The beauty of the social media platform is that the possibilities are endless.  I’m simply guessing here, but I’d believe that more Olympians interacted with each other today on Twitter than we used to see in a year of inter-sport communication.  I cannot wait to see what impact the constant communication with each other and the outside world will have next.

To put it graphically, simply multiply this times this kind of confidence and appreciation by one of USA’s best:

David Oliver

The power of the Olympics brings people together every two years and can inspire the world, but the power of Olympians coming together on a daily basis can change the world.  It’s not a matter of if…but when.

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