Twitter use by top sports people

Jonny Wilkinson

Or..Why do sports people tweet?

With all the issues that some sports people have brought upon themselves by tweeting one would have thought that this would have put them off. Not a bit of it!! Hundreds of our top sportsmen and women are there on Twitter offering a (sometimes self-indulgent) look at the lives they lead. Are we interested? Of course we are! I’ve taken a look at some top UK sports people who have not been put off by the hot water that Messrs Barton, Pietersen et al found themselves in! Here is my selection:


Jonny Wilkinson @JonnyWilkinson

Yes, our very own rugby world cup winning icon and national hero has a Twitter account and what is more it is followed by 130,000 of us. Being Wilko, his attention to detail is immaculate and he tweets in perfect French and perfect English. However, as he was when he was at the very top of his career, he is less verbose than others with just 726 tweets to date (May 2013)

Sir Nick Faldo @NickFaldo006

Possibly the UK’s greatest ever sporting achiever, Sir Nick is followed by 140,000 people. Never one to bite his tongue over offering an opinion or two, he has posted 3,200 tweets and is exceptional value for Faldo fans. However, he is a bit like Marmite; you either like him or you don’t. I do!

Paula Radcliffe @paulajradcliffe

Whereas I know Faldo is a former golfer, I am never sure if Paula Radcliffe is an athlete who is still competing, retired, injured or has just disappeared off to the loo. Regardless of that this record breaking marathon runner has 100,000 followers and with 2,600 tweets – what a busy mum.


Sir Bradley Wiggins

There are numerous Twitter accounts purporting to be Sir Wiggo but sadly none of them seem to be genuine. What a shame. He makes this list because he should be there; he would liven the place up alongside Graeme Swann. Twitter needs Wiggo – perhaps we should start a campaign.

Andy Murray @Andy_Murray

Our top tennis player has an incredible 1.4million followers. That will be more than listen to his monosyllabic post match interviews and it’s fair to say that there is some occasional insightful stuff amongst his 1,288 tweets. There would be even more tweets if he had more time but he keeps reaching finals darn it!


Rio Ferdinand @rioferdy5

With an amazing 4.2million followers, Man Utd’s regular contributor from the bench has by far the biggest following in my short list of sportspeople. He obviously has the most time on his hands as well because his 11,700 tweets also outstrips the competition. A lot of tedious stuff but some useful insights into the everyday life of a footballer.


Graeme Swann @Swanny66

Media favourite and England cricket’s wind up merchant Graeme Swann has an impressive 475,000 followers hanging on every word of his 4,000 tweets. Unafraid of upsetting colleagues his twitter feed is one of the more entertaining ones and in no way tows any ‘party line’!

Laura Robson @laurarobson5

Currently our top female tennis player and threatening to do for UK women’s tennis what Andy Murray has done for the men’s game, Laura has 174,000 followers which is pretty impressive given her short time in the game. Her 717 tweets are not exactly a riveting read for me, but she is only young and I am sure that One Direction and hairpieces are of interest to some.

Brian Moore @brianmoore666

Not for the faint hearted! This former England hooker tells it exactly how he sees it without fear or favour and if that upsets a few, well………they probably shouldn’t have been following in the first place. A firm favourite of mine whether he is talking about sport, tv, politics – anything. He is as uncompromising on Twitter as he was on the international rugby pitches around the world playing for England and his 27,000 tweets to 78,000 followers have seen a few off over the years.

Emma Agnew @MrsAggers

Referred to by her husband, the cricket commentator Jonathon Agnew, as ‘the current Mrs Agnew’, she gives an interesting and extremely funny insight into what life is like with a former top sportsman who now leads a similar life into his middle years as a cricket groupie. She has over 9,000 followers and deserves many more to experience the sharp wit of many of her 900+ tweets.

David Beckham @RealBeckham_7

No list of sporting icons would ever be complete without David Beckham who does have an official website with 18,000 followers (yes only eighteen thousand!). However, with just 2 tweets to his name he has produced more children than posts and presumably those 18,000 are patiently waiting for the third tweet. David’s wife Victoria has 6 million followers. Draw your own conclusions!


So why do they do it?

It’s all about the marketing of their own brand. Top sports people are a brand these days and Twitter feeds become part of the brand. They reflect the sports person’s personality and can confirm our perceptions of what that person is really like. All of the above are good examples of this for better or worse. This is so true of Twitter bad boys Joey Barton (football) and Kevin Pietersen (cricket) who have brought problems upon themselves by letting their feelings be known on Twitter without considering the consequences. It is no coincidence that they have also acted in a similar way within their respective sports for which they have been disciplined.


They will all have different motives but the most entertaining for those of us who follow sport are those that don’t take themselves too seriously or who at least ‘give’ a little insight into our enthusiasm for them and for their sport.


Do you have a favourite tweeting athlete who is not listed? Please add them in the comments box.



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