Athletes, like models, can attest that although their career paths are rooted in passion and skill, they are also founded on the inevitable: youth. With the emergence of social media in the early aughts and beyond, top performers in sports, entertainment, music and more have leveraged the platforms’ abilities to continue expanding one’s reach, producing new content, and engaging with one’s audience in real time. Today, we dive into the resurgence of athletes-turned-influencers, and how renowned pros’ are owning their own narrative on Instagram.
Perhaps the premier example of our generation: Tony Hawk.
The professional skateboard legend took retirement to mean entrepreneurship, with new endeavors like his on-the-road show Boom Boom Huck Jam on YouTube and becoming a brand ambassador for Vans.
And just like our other favorite influencers, Tony leveraged his personal brand in sports entertainment to work with GU to launch his own clothing line, and even teamed up with Liquid Death on an exclusive skateboard drop. Super-fans of the sport and those who have never done a drop-in in their lives are sure to have seen Tony’s influence in action, which goes to show… is there ever such a thing as ‘retirement’ with social media as the foundation of digital culture?
Next up? Legendary snowboarder, Shaun White.
…notary mentee of Tony Hawk but beyond that, a bonafide influencer in his own right on Instagram. [editor’s note: Being Nina Dobrev’s +1 doesn’t hurt for social clout, either…] But we digress.
Shaun White danced the influencer tango by both launching his own brand ‘Whitespace’ which features a collection of artful snowboards as well as serving as a social ambassador to his favorite brands, such as Krave Jerky, Celsius & the Masters workout app. Still, one can’t help but lean into how the drive to influence post-athletic stardom came about; after all, athletes are in a way, the first ‘influencers’ in sports media – acclaimed to trade-worthy cards, merch, and broadcast media opportunities.
Or, aside from brand collabs and merch drops (like the iconic LVMG x Whitespace snowboard collection designed between the late Virgil Abloh and Shaun White) there are athletic influencers making an impact that leaves a positive wave behind, like Michael Phelps. The Olympic gold-medalist and early adopter in the digital space (ya, we all remember THOSE times) Phelps has shared his life outside the pool on Instagram, including his family lifestyle and initiatives he is passionate about like mental health awareness in the athletic space, and even creating his ow foundation to support the cause.
Overall, it seems like expressing life on social after stardom on the court, slopes, ramp, and more is as inevitable as a model launching a skincare brand in 2022. We’ve seen it before, but we’re just as intrigued to see it again. And of course, some serums are better than others. 😉