By Michelle Hirsch, Schwartz MSL Boston
It’s hard not to be jazzed about American athletes’ tremendous performances this past week in London. So far, the U.S. has won a whopping 18 gold medals.
But when it comes to the individual competitors scoring victories, there’s a fairly stark trend emerging in who U.S. audiences are paying attention to.
Women’s all-around champion gymnast Gabby Douglas and veteran swimming ringer Michael Phelps individually accounted for the majority of the social media discussion over the past few days, after each came out on top of their respective sports yesterday. That’s hardly a shocker.
However, a look at the last three days of social media activity around a handful of high-profile gold-medal winners reveals that, taken together, the Olympic newcomers in the mix generated more than double the social media attention of the athletes who have competed in past Olympics. Douglas, fellow gymnast Aly Raisman, and swimmer Missy Franklin—all teens and Olympic first-timers—collectively drew 68.3 percent of the Twitter, Facebook, and blog buzz over the last three days compared to 31.4 percent for Phelps, judo-champ Kayla Harrison, and swimmers Rebecca Soni, Matt Grevers, and Tyler Clary—all of whom are second or third-time Olympic competitors.
That breakdown presents an interesting possibility: American fans are more excited and impressed by rookies than household names. In the sports world, Jeremy Lin sparked that same type of widespread fervor when he bounded onto the NBA scene last fall.
So what is it about these newcomers that elicit such a response? And, conversely, does that take away at all from the tried-and-true athletes fighting just as hard to perform their best?
Posted by Laura Kempke on August 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM