Social media’s effect on elite athletes to be studied

Dr Chris Wagstaff (right) and Richard Pettit, athlete engagement project manager for the International Olympic Committee

A sports psychologist is leading a programme of research to examine the effect engaging with social media has on elite athletes.

Dr Chris Wagstaff, in the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Sport and Exercise Science, is working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the one-year study.

The IOC and other large sporting organisations have previously supported athletes promoting themselves on social media because doing so is seen as helping provide good role models and promote Olympic values of Friendship, Respect and Excellence.

Dr Wagstaff said: “Social media has an increasing presence in elite sport as athletes capitalise on marketing and self-branding and being able to control their own communication, but it may come at a cost.

“The challenges it can pose include athletes being trolled and/or making gaffes and faux pars. Social media has been described by some athletes as a distraction, loathsome, and tiring, which isn’t great for wellbeing or performance.”

Dr Wagstaff is working with Elsa Kristiansen from Norway on the study.


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