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Social media has helped gen Z athletes find their ‘authentic voice’

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Generation Z athletes (those born after 1996) have emerged in 2021 as global wellbeing leaders and advocates, challenging outdated ideas about what it takes to be an athlete. Many of these young sportspeople have gone beyond their sport and taken on roles of advocacy, sponsorship and politics. Through social media, they have opened up conversations about performance, mental health and the impact of the media.

Sports stars are making their voices heard across a range of different sporting arenas. They are doing this by shifting the power over the conversation and this is particularly facilitated by social media. These athletes are making it clear that, while they love their sports, their primary responsibility is their duty to themselves.

Two of the most prominent sportspeople to take a stand for themselves and their mental health this year were tennis player Naomi Osaka and gymnast Simone Biles.

Osaka has used social media to elevate issues around race. She has made it clear that “before [she is] an athlete, [she is] a Black Woman”. Biles has pointed to how having such a huge social media platform (she has 1.7 million followers on Twitter alone) stopped the governing body USA Gymnastics from turning a blind eye to sexual assault and harassment allegations against coaches and staff.

Both are leading advocates on key social issues: Osaka on Black Lives........

© The Conversation

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