For the extremely online sports fan, there's nothing worse than a sports star who is boring on social media – or heaven forbid, isn't even on Instagram.
Our unquenchable thirst for content must be fed, and fed well, and athletes who are both good on the field and on Twitter is rare.
Which is why it is important that the teams and players who do make an effort receive the recognition they deserve.
Without further ado, here are the 2019 social media sports awards – aka a list of lukewarm takes by a dude who spends way too much time on the internet.
Get that money: The award for best Kiwi influencer athlete
Athletes who put their bodies and minds on the line, a lot of the time for our entertainment and at the benefit of brands and corporations, deserve to make as much money as they can in their relatively short careers. And one way to do that in the internet age is on social media.
Here are the three athletes I would buy from.
Eliza McCartney, the Olympic bronze medallist with a relentless smile, studied environmental science at uni and has channeled that passion for the environment into her social media presence. She's teamed up with several charities to advocate for a more sustainable future and also does a quite a few sponsored food posts. She will be hoping to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics next year, especially because they are made out of recycled materials.
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Alright, who has a sneaky mobile phone sitting in a draw at home because you weren’t sure what to do with it 🙋🏻♀️ Well now you have no excuse because it’s super easy and convenient to recycle your old phones with @remobile.nz 🙌🏼 I’m so excited to be an ambassador for RE:MOBILE because not only are the phones reused or recycled, but the proceeds all go to @sustainablecoastlines to protect our waterways 💦🌱 There are heaps of locations to drop off your old phones (link in bio) and yes that includes smart phones too, as well as absolute bricks like this one. Happy recycling everyone 🌏#recyclewithremobile #sustainablecoastlines
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Damian McKenzie loves a good vibe. His social media presence is pretty standard for a young guy who plays sport for a living. But he's also always down for a paid partnership post with his sponsors Adidas or a cheeky promo for Sony's latest big screen TV. Good vibes all round – especially when you're getting paid.
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Can't wait to see the lads kick off tonight. The sound quality on this TV is unreal, feels as though you’re actually there. How good that the sound comes straight out of the screen too!! #immerseyourself @sonynz #BRAVIAOLED #SonyBRAVIA #A8G #sponsored
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Ameliaranne Ekenasio is a world champ with the Silver Ferns and a champion influencer in her own right too. The gregarious goal attack might be the most prolific #ad poster in New Zealand sport and seems to have multiple partnerships on the go. But like her non-promotional social media presence – feminist, inspirational, mental health conscious – Ekenasio's sponsored content is usually about wellness and self-care.
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Ever think that your gut health could be linked to your mood? Well look no further it’s the Gut-Brain Connection and I have your chance to know a lot more about it! I have no doubt that in our modern world there are a number of things that disrupt the gut-brain connection and in-turn how this impacts our physical and mental health. So you’ll get some gut-loving tips to support your mental and physical wellness. . Me and @bepurebenwarren have got a double pass to give you to ANY OF HIS SHOWS on his nationwide tour! All you need to tell me is: 1. What show you want to go to and 2. WHY? **for bonus points tag any friends that would like to go as well. . For locations and dates check out @bepurebenwarren and my story! . I’ll announce a winner on Monday so good luck 💛💛 . #gutbrainconnection #bepurebenwarren #health #wellness
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The 'Get that money' award goes to… Wellness kween Ameliaranne Ekenasio. You luv 2 $ee it.
Me and the boys: The award for team of the year on social media
The only thing better than an extremely online player is an extremely online team.
United States women's national soccer team
Twitter loves the USWNT, and so it should. They were not only completely dominant at the FIFA World Cup this year, where they claimed their fourth title, but they also dominated headlines and newsfeeds everywhere for basically just being awesome. Goal celebrations became memes, their very online players are hilarious on social media, and their co-captain and all round amazing human fired up a Donald Trump tweet storm when she said "I'm not going to the f***ing White House". Sure, they can be a bit too 'Murica sometimes, but at least it's the good kind.
when I get my inbox down to ten emails pic.twitter.com/yvBoAXZErA— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) June 28, 2019
The Raptors were the most memeable NBA team of the year, thanks in large part to their MVP Kawhi Leonard. The weird thing is Leonard isn't even active on social media, but his meme potential – thanks to his strange laugh and robotic pursuit of excellence – made the Raptors kings of both the NBA and the internet. Unfortunately for the Raptors, Kawhi took his talents – and laugh – to the Clippers this season.
Kawhi laughs like his software needs to be updated https://t.co/MLAcK9RGWt— Zito (@_Zeets) September 24, 2018
New Zealand Breakers
If there's a team that lives and dies by the 'all publicity is good publicity' mantra, it's the Breakers. Whether it's billboard guerilla marketing, sponsorship deals with dodgy/sexist websites, or their owner's sometimes bizarre brand of leadership, the Breakers certainly love to get their name out there. This, of course, extends to their social media team as well. The Breakers are New Zealand sport's reply guys. (Special shoutout to NZ basketball's greatest conspiracy theorist Corey Webster.)
Director of Tweets. That’s a great title— Sky Sport Breakers NZ (@NZBreakers) November 28, 2019
Why is there so many half built buildings/cities in China??? They masterminding some shit for the future or just running out of money lol ???!!!!— Corey Webster (@cwebster9) June 17, 2019
And the 'Me and the boys' award with a slightly sexist name goes to... The USWNT. Sorry not sorry Trump.
Low key talented: The award for the Kiwi athlete with a special talent
Athletes are humans too and (sometimes) have other interests and talents. Here are three of the best in New Zealand sport.
Football Fern Hannah Wilkinson, who plays club football in Sweden, says she sings to "escape" from the grind of professional sport. And she's pretty damn good at it too. You can find her covering popular songs – and just generally being cool af – on her Twitter and Instagram.
Aside from his ability to make the All Blacks conveniently overlook his assault charge, Reece is also a pretty good singer. While the All Blacks were in Japan, they dropped a video of the winger singing some Six60 and it was pretty great. (Some fans think he was lip-syncing.)
Sports photographer Alisha Lovrich
After an injury put her running career on hold when she was 25, Alisha Lovrich ended up taking photos of her teammates while they were competing. She has been doing it ever since. Lately, she started getting good at pole vaulting and qualified for nationals this year; she says sports photography helped her analyse athlete movement. Her Instagram is a celebration of that very thing.
And the 'Low key talented' award goes to... The soothing sounds of Hannah Wilkinson.
Cancelled Cup: The award for the sports star who should stop posting
Enough ink has been spilt on this guy. Just go away.
Conor McGregor turned the UFC into a circus, culminating in last year's all-in brawl after he was dominated in his fight with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. And since then, he's become even more insufferable both online and offline. But the most troubling thing to come out this year has been the two sexual assault allegations against him.
Antonio Brown became the highest-paid receiver in the NFL after he was traded to the Oakland Raiders. But after a series of off-field incidents, including a confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock, Brown was released without even playing a game for his new team. He then signed with the New England Patriots, but was cut again after playing one game because the NFL was investigating sexual assault allegations made against him.
And the Cancelled Cup award goes to… All three. Cancel all three of these losers.
No choice but to stan: The award for the best Kiwi athlete on social media
These three athletes make being a sports fan on social media a lot more fun and bearable.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams' Twitter and Instagram accounts are the salves to internet poisoning. Apart from the occasional post calling out racism, which is always important especially for someone with his following, Williams chooses to use social media to inspire and impart wisdom. Apart from the fact that he's extremely good looking and buff, it's probably how he became the most followed Kiwi athlete on Twitter.
My heart is hurting about the news coming out of Christchurch. Sending love & prayers to the effected families❤️😢 pic.twitter.com/7PX9wc56b8— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) March 15, 2019
Ardie Savea is probably the All Blacks' next superstar, and his reputation as a social media early adopter will only improve his chances. Savea is not only active and interesting across the usual social media channels, but he also dances up a storm on TikTok and even has his own podcast (which is great by the way).
After getting disillusioned by professional sport in 2017, Black Cap Jimmy Neesham worked in PR for a while, which offers an insight into why he's so good at Twitter. It's rare to have an athlete at the top of their game that's also a genuine Twitter personality. He has everything you want in a follow: acerbic wit, hilarious clapbacks to critics, anti-Trump tweets, commentary about the news.
Kids, don’t take up sport. Take up baking or something. Die at 60 really fat and happy.— Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) July 15, 2019
The 'No choice but to stan' award goes to... Ardie Savea for being down with the kids on TikTok.
Gonna tell my kids this piece was good: The award for the sports meme of the year
It wasn't the best year for sports memes, but there were a few gems. Here were a few that made me lol.
Super over jokes
Jokes about tiebreakers, Super Overs, boundaries... you know the ones. My god, there were so many this year.
As Jimmy Neesham said: "I'll be playing a game of table tennis in 2050 and we'll get to deuce and the person in the next table will probably [joke about boundaries]."
Bowling alley strike videos
the bowling alley screen when you get a strike pic.twitter.com/HAg7gPTh2P— hazel // BLM (@Meowstyx) May 22, 2019
the bowling alley screen when you get a strike be like pic.twitter.com/eylUfd5FIf— fab (@_stickfab_) May 21, 2019
Kawhi Leonard laugh
When ya boss tell a shitty ass joke but you trynna get a raise pic.twitter.com/REI6eM4pDl— Long Live Bean 🐍 Flock 2-0 (@ScummyP__) September 24, 2018
Damian Lillard victory stare
It was even made into a 'This is SportsCenter' ad on that television thingy.
Alex Morgan sips tea
On behalf of Scotland, thank you. pic.twitter.com/yihqjitjPT— Prince of Alba (@davidkerr1970) July 3, 2019
The 'Gonna tell my kids this piece was good' award goes to… Super Over jokes, of course. Just like art, some of the best memes come from heartbreak.