Social media has made it easier to connect with athletes in may ways. Tweets from professional athletes make a victory more enjoyable for both the athletes and their fans. Social media has made it easier for athletes to get the word out about their sponsors, making it easier for them to gain new ones.
Most importantly, for the Olympics Games at least; it has increased viewers. That is why they have started The Olympic Athletes' Hub, which connects fans to their country's athletes through Facebook or Twitter.
Combine that the NBC announcement that they will be covering all of the games in their entirety online, and you get an instant emersion in the games. A far cry from simply reading about it in the papers when the first modern Olympics came into being.
Thanks to limitless coverage and social media, this years Olympic Games promise to be the most viewed in history.
Compare the reach of social media today and when the last Summer olympics took place and you will instantly see the stark contrast of how social media can change viewership. In 2008, Facebook had a paltry 1000 million users. Today they have 845 million. Twitter had 6 million in 2008. Today they have 140 million, twenty times more.
See all the pertinent stats, and the most popular athletes to follow, in the infographic above.