Professional Athletes Taking Over the Internet


Sophia Li, Sports Editor

As someone who follows the sports world relatively closely, I’ve noticed that some of the biggest names in sports have created Instagram and TikTok accounts that they post frequently on. Not only is this a great marketing strategy to reach a larger fanbase, but it introduces the younger generation to these athletes and sports. No matter what level of sports they participate in, whether it be at the collegiate level or at the Olympics, each athlete has a special story to share. Examples include freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who won three gold medals in the 2022 Winter Olympics; all-around gold medalist gymnast Sunisa Lee; and Duke University collegiate runner, Emily Cole. Each athlete is so uniquely different, but have all taken their fame to a next level through their social media accounts. 

Let’s start off with Eileen Gu, the 18-year-old freestyle skier from San Francisco, California. As an adventurous athlete growing up, Gu participated in a variety of sports including cross country and ballet. However, after sticking to skiing because of the thrill and adrenaline that drew her in, she has far excelled in her accomplishments. With the nature of her success, Gu has increased her network and compatibility with big, international brands. She has booked several modeling agencies, modeling for brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, Gucci, and Fendi. 

Due to her accomplishments, she was also featured in the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ in 2020, which features “600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders, and stars,” according to Forbes.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Gu has taken to social media, posting pictures of her accomplishments and relatable videos that are enjoyed by her 1.6 million followers on Instagram, and 314,000 followers on TikTok. Her videos are so enjoyable and fun to watch that she has also racked up 4.4 million likes on TikTok. Her videos include her modeling shoots, favorite skis, and relatable videos about being an athlete and entrepreneur. 

“I don’t know Eileen Gu too well, but I’ve heard about how she’s an Asian-American and chose to represent China in the Winter Olympics. Even though I don’t know her full story, I’ve seen her on my social media several times, and I think that she’s a brave and inspiring athlete and person. I do know that she is very well-known, and seeing her pictures and videos straight from my phone has allowed me to feel a closer connection to her, as something so well-known in the sporting world,” Arcadia High School sophomore Nisa Qureshi stated. 

Sunisa Lee is another great example of an athlete who has extended her fame and popularity through the internet, predominantly also on Instagram and Tiktok. Lee has 1.7 million followers on Instagram as well as 1.6 million followers on TikTok, with a total of 34 million likes. Lee frequently posts her routines in her competitions, her makeup and hair, and her training and exercises in practice. This allows her to give viewers a behind-the-scenes experience of her work ethic and demonstrate what it takes to become a great athlete. Additionally, she posts her medals and victories after competitions to share the joy of winning and the unreal feeling that comes with it. Lee has posted TikTok videos of competitions like the Olympics, Nationals, Classics, and NCAA. Furthermore, Lee also posts about her personal life, sharing her struggles of how she juggles school, social life, caring for her family, and her personal life. Lee shows her audience that she’s just like any other normal person in life, who works hard at her passions, and shares the same struggles that many people around the world face. This is one of the characteristics that make Lee very relatable, as everyone has their moments where they’re stressed about something, whether it be school or family life. 

“I think Sunisa Lee is such an inspiring athlete, and as a matter of fact, her TikToks have popped on my #ForYou page several times. One of them was her holding her gold medal from the Olympics, and another was a room tour of her dorm. I really like watching her videos because it shows insight into her life and I look up to her a lot,” AHS sophomore Alyssa Lee stated. 

Last but not least, Emily Cole is an example of another athlete who shares her sporting journey with her fans online. Cole is a Division 1 Cross Country and Track and Field runner for Duke University. On the internet, Cole posts mainly on TikTok to show aspects of her training like nutrition, workouts, training runs, meet-prep, and more. She has 158,000followers and a total of 6.7 million likes. Though Cole is not as well-known as athletes like Gu and Lee, she shares a greater portion of her running life and has been vulnerable about her struggles. For example, Cole has been open and vulnerable about how she went into a self-induced coma due to her having low levels of salt in the blood and an increased amount of water levels, in a condition called hyponatremia. Cole describes her experience with fueling for training, and how she had been having low levels of salt, an important electrolyte, without even knowing it. She’s more than a successful TikTok athlete, however, as she has also written a book, called The Player’s Plate, detailing her take on the importance of nutrition and raising awareness of hyponatremia while sharing her own hurdles. 

All in all, an increasing number of athletes are taking to social media to share aspects of their lives, struggles, and success with their fans. The ever-so-changing power of social media and the internet has allowed these three athletes stated above, as well as many others around the world, to share the beauty of sport. 


Photo Courtesy of UNSPLASH.COM