The rise of digital content creation in sports is allowing fans to connect with their favorite teams and athletes like never before.
For decades, sports fans watched college and professional athletes from afar, knowing their favorite players only through TV screens or as happy fans high-fiving as the team got off the bus.
Those days, since the inception and continued rise of social media, are over.
Presence on social networks is essential for all types of business, and even more so for sports. Social media teams need to be ready to post at a moment’s notice whenever something newsworthy happens in the world of sports.
With a competitive and rapidly growing market, sports organizations continue to employ a multitude of digital content creators.
One creator is Josie Sandquist, a fifth-year WSU broadcast journalism and WSU football major creative video intern. Sandquist said WSU’s media team has grown over the past few years.
“WSU didn’t really have a media team until about a year ago,” Sandquist said. “Before there were only three people. Now there are 12 of us.”
Sandquist said she sees sports media growing in the future by allowing fans to see different sides of athletes.
“The fans like to see how they behave in practice. I have so many clips of guys dancing and joking around during practice,” Sandquist said. “People forget that they are also students.”
Sandquist said her upbringing, which coincided with the rise of social media, gave her generation an unorthodox background and expertise in content creation. This upbringing removed many barriers to entry into the field of content creation.
It is debatable whether the rise of social media and its bridging of the gap between players and fans has had a positive or negative impact on the world of sports.
However, social media continues to change the way the public interacts with athletes.
“People see [athletes] almost on a god level,” said Jonah Ward, a 21-year-old graphic designer and senior business management student at George Mason University.
In addition to his studies, Ward leads GMU bar stool accounts on social networks and its graphic page, Deep design.
Ward said social media interactions between athletes, graphic designers and fans create an environment that humanizes athletes.
In March In 2022, Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy shared one of Ward’s again designs on his Instagram story.
“We thought it was crazy, but you remember there’s a real person behind that screen,” Ward said.
Like many others in the digital content creation space, Ward had an unconventional introduction to social media management and graphic design.
Ward began his career in digital content creation at age 15 when he started a New England Patriots fan page that grew to 10,000 followers on Instagram. Ward said the site and its community led him to start creating graphics.
Like Ward, Sandquist found an interest in content creation at an early age, starting her own YouTube channel as a fourth-grader.
Another creator with a non-traditional background in graphic design is Cyr.
Cyr is a 20-year-old graphic designer and high school football coach at Henry Abbott Technical High School. He works with EA Sports’ Madden Football and is best known for his sports design site.
Cyr began designing graphics as a seventh grader when his brother began attending Abbott Tech, which offers digital art classes.
Through independent content creation on Instagram, Cyr connected with the players of his favorite team, the New York Giants.
Since then, Cyr has produced a merchandise collaboration with Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes and grown his account from 2,000 to 22,000 followers in just three years.
Cyr wants the general public to know how much it takes to create content.
“You can tell when a trade happens and the organization rushes to arrange a jersey swap,” Cyr said.
It takes him two to four hours to process or replace a jersey, depending on the uniforms he works with and the angles of the photos.
Cyr said designers can create a portfolio without a college degree in this day and age.
Digital content creators like Cyr, Sandquist and Ward continue to prove how people can get into the fields they want to work in, regardless of their background.