What's The Story? Panel debate whether social media is good for sport

Last Updated: 13/02/14 11:23am

Sports stars who are influenced by "armchair champs" on social media are mentally weak and should know better, according to Johnny Nelson.

Over the past decade the rise of social media has altered the relationship between the sports stars, the media and fans, particularly the ability for supporters to interact directly with their heroes.

At times this can lead to criticism as much as adulation but Nelson, the former WBO cruiserweight champion, believes athletes should be confident and professional enough to see through the fickle nature of social media interactions.

"You have to be strong enough to ignore the criticism," he told What's The Story. "I don't understand sportsmen that take it personally.

"You should not be listening to those people because you are the one that has put the work in, you are a professional, and you know your job."

Johnny Nelson

"If you are the guy that is getting up at the crack of dawn going training... and you know your sport inside out then you read something on the back of the newspaper or on Twitter or Facebook and somebody, who is just an armchair champion, sits back and says, 'well he has not done that right', and they influence you and you're the one who has done all that work, it means you are mentally weak.

"You should not be listening to those people because you are the one that has put the work in, you are a professional, and you know your job. So if you are influenced by armchair champions then that is your fault. You should know better."

Switch off

The Times' Alyson Rudd highlighted the plight of Steven Finn, who was affected by criticism on Twitter as he endured a torrid Ashes tour of Australia with England.

Rudd said: "He [Finn] was addicted to Twitter and he would check his tab to see what reaction he was getting and he then found that if he had had a slightly off day and there was some negative stuff, he started obsessing about it and he found it was affecting his performance the next day. He realised that he had to stop checking it."

Former England bowler Dominic Cork added: "It is the same as looking at the back page when you have had a bad fight or a bad cricket game. Sportspeople who say they don't read papers, that is a lie. When it is about yourself you do read it.

"Of course you take things personally if you are on Facebook or Twitter and see these things about your performance. Steven Finn struggled to cope with that. You have got to be able to switch off and use it as something that promotes your sport and get the interaction with fans."

The What's the Story panel, which also included London Broncos coach Tony Rea, also discussed how social media has changed the media and provided a great portal for promoting sports. Check out the full video above.