PORTLAND -- For the first time, tracking down your favorite athlete is just a "follow" away, but some are getting into major tweet trouble.
For the fans who can’t follow their favorite athletes to London, they can follow them on Twitter. The tweets get you inside an athlete’s mind like never before.
“People like the behind-the-scenes action,” Leslie Rill, a Portland State University assistant professor of Communication said.
Rill says Twitter has opened up instant access to the famous and not so famous-- with plenty of personal positives but the negative notes have captured headlines.
U. S. Women's soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo's critical comments against NBC analyst Brandi Chastain made news over the weekend. Solo was upset over Chastain's criticism of the team's defensive play. Solo was not disciplined. But Greek track star Voula Papachristou was punished after posting what many called a racist tweet. That got her kicked off the Olympic team.
“Sometimes people like what you say and may even follow you because some of your antics, but then when it hits too close to home people might have a negative backlash against it,” Rill said.
American hurdler Lolo Jones was also criticized after posting a gun tweet days after the Colorado shooting. The message was deemed insensitive by some of her followers.
Rill describes what drives athletes to sound off on social media.
“So you probably have an athlete that’s unhappy about a refs call, for example, who’s going to be unhappy about it anyway and likely going to complain to their friends, well in this case their friends are the thousands of followers that’s on Twitter or Facebook,” Rill said.
KGW stopped by PSU Monday afternoon. It’s easy to spot students on their cell phones texting, talking and tweeting. PSU student Jarrell Townsend likes to speak his mind on social media.
“It just depends on the moment I try not to be too explicit,” Townsend said.
Other students prefer to stay low key.
“I've definitely had some angry tweets before but I don’t get explicit and don’t swear,” Danielle Bernardini, another student said.
“I monitor myself because I know in the future businesses will look and see what you post on Twitter or Facebook or social media before hiring you,” Maggie McGlynn, a PSU student said.
“When you’re representing a country you know it’s bigger than yourself and you got to monitor everything you say. Olympics is about positivity so anything negative gets super magnified,” Townsend added.
Who knew 140 characters or less could make or break your goal for the gold.
”So if you’re upset about something related to your sport and you get on Twitter, that’s like yeah get everyone on my team and I’m so upset about it, those people are wrong but what we see later that it’s not received very well and that creates negative publicity for athletes themselves,” Rill said.
Rill said considering all the athletes competing in the Olympics, a majority of them are using social media for positive PR, the negative is just a small percentage.