Armory Track enjoys its Twitter.
It has helped us track down stories and results. It has allowed us to keep up with athletes and even engage with them. And at the elite levels of track & field, Twitter is a favorite form of communication for the athletes.
Some of the athletes are far more active than most. Consider that Bianca Knight (@MidKnightDreams), who will be representing the U.S. on relay squads in London, has posted an astounding 50,000 tweets. Lolo Jones (@lolojones) is prolific on Twitter, but not nearly in Knight's class. But her candor, humor and ability has netted more than 160,000 followers.
Of course, the world's fastest man Usain Bolt (@usainbolt) has a huge fan base — more than 600,000 followers — even though his tweets are sporadic. Four-time Olympic medalist Ato Boldon (@atoboldon) — now the face of NBC's track & field telecasts — is also one of the sport's most respected tweeters, having amassed nearly 15,000 tweets. The night before the Penn Relays, we had a spirited back and forth with Boldon about Jamaica's history at the Relays.
But all this back-and-forth has Olympics administrators both excited and worried. Concerned that there could be an embarrassing incident, the athletes are discovering the strict guidelines to social media as imposed by the International Olympic Committee.
In USA Today, Kelly Whiteside writes specifically about the scandal in waiting. She talked to Dan Durbin, who oversees the University of Southern California's Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media & Society.
"There's hundreds of active and engaged and competitive athletes in very close quarters to each other, and a huge number of them will be tweeting," Durbin said. "It's almost inevitable that some sort of controversy will come out. It would be surprising if it didn't."
Yet Adario Strange of PC Magazine reports that the IOC is also embracing the opportunity for athlete's to share their experience at the Games. In fact, it has started an interactive Athlete's Hub for the competitors and fans alike.
IOC Communications Director Mark Adams said in a statement, "The Athletes' Hub has already compiled the Twitter and Facebook feeds of over 2,000 Olympians, and over 100,000 people have visited the site. The additions we are announcing further demonstrate the IOC's continued efforts to socialize the Olympic Games and create a better, more engaging experience for fans and Olympic athletes around the world."
And at Armory Track, we will be tweeting to our heart's content come August 3rd!