For my creative project, I decided to create an Instagram account for a fictional professional athlete. This fictional character goes by “Profesh Athlete”, and they do not have any particular gender, appearance, or sport that they play- this character is simply meant to embody the social media persona of a professional athlete in 2019. In order to execute this project, I created a new Instagram account (@profeshathlete) and began to collect stock images from the internet that would be the images I would post. I then closely observed and studied the Instagram accounts of real professional athletes including Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Morgan, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Serena Williams, and used the stock images to emulate what they had posted. As an avid sports fan, I follow plenty of athletes on Instagram, including the ones I have listed, and I have noticed many similarities between what these athletes post regardless of their gender, what sport they play, or how popular they are. I have found that they tend to post a lot about their sponsors and endorse products or services, they promote their own teams, and they also post about their personal lives and family, so I decided to create posts like these for this fictional professional athlete. These posts also drum up attention from fans and followers, and people often leave comments of support and even hate. I tried to emulate these support and hate comments on these posts with other Instagram accounts or friends’ Instagram accounts, and each account kind of played a different role and held their own distinct opinion toward @Profeshathlete.
My final project topic is intended to highlight how social media has completely transformed how sports are consumed in American culture. Sports have always been an integral piece of the American puzzle, but social media has bolstered its role and has drawn people closer together in the sports community than ever before. My final project clearly illustrates this idea because it shows how influential members of the sports community reach their fan base in order to self promote. This project is intended to show this self-promotional aspect of social media and it illustrates how professional athletes use platforms like Instagram to communicate with their fan base in order to market themselves. The choices I made to convey this were very intentional. Every post I posted self-promoted in some sort of way: there were products and companies that Profesh Athlete endorsed such as Powerade, SoulCycle, Head and Shoulders Shampoo, and Barbell Brigade. Real professional athletes will post images and caption them encouraging their fans to use that product or service, and I did exactly this with stock images and captions. I would tag the companies in the picture if they had Instagram, put their location in the description, and use their hashtags in my caption in order to draw attention to them.
Overall, this project definitely fits into our class and the topics we have been discussing all year as it relates directly to how digital media has forced a change in how our society consumes information. More specifically, this project relates to Unit 3 of our course: Social Media, Identity and Celebrity, as it explores specific ways in which a social media platform impacts ideas of what makes celebrity identity in American culture. Essentially, by creating this professional athlete profile that is based off of real professional athletes’s Instagram profile, it is clear that there is this social structure and social hierarchy in social media because many of these posts are for marketing purposes. Unlike the common user of social media, celebrities, including professional athletes use social media as a tool for reinforcing their social status.