03/08/2012 06:16 pm ET Updated May 08, 2012

Athletes Want to Reach the Top of Their Game With Social Media

One of yesterday's trending topics on Twitter was "Peyton Manning." Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts and gave this heartfelt interview during a press conference.

On March 1, The Los Angeles Times reported that ESPN would begin streaming live college basketball championship games on Facebook, the first time it has done so. "ESPN's move will allow the Walt Disney Co. cable network to take advantage of Facebook's platform to reach young viewers who aren't watching the games on TV," the Times wrote.

Marketing has transformed sports at the professional, collegiate and local levels into a sports-entertainment ecosystem that generates billions of dollars, has global reach, and serves legions of customers/fans. The growth of social media in sports is through the roof, and market-savvy athletes are using social platforms to extend their brand beyond the field.

Two weeks ago Gravity Summit held its 4th Annual event at UCLA and focused on social media for sports & entertainment. Super Bowl champ Warren Sapp, who boasts 775,000 Twitter followers under his @QBKilla handle, received the Gravity Summit Social Media Award for Sports. During his acceptance remarks he mentioned the importance of a strategic approach to the use of social media tools and how that has helped him have a direct connection with his fans -- especially as his career expanded into Dancing With The Stars and beyond.

From the pros to high school recruiting, social media is having an effect on the athlete, the team, the coach, and the fan. Recently The Washington Post published a piece explaining that "as more high school athletes turn to Facebook and Twitter to update their status -- whether about official campus visits or what movie they're going to -- more college coaches are keeping a close watch."

The entire sports ecosystem -- team/player/organization/league/advertiser/fan -- is realizing that forging relationships via social media is critical. Athletes who want to reach the top of their game are smart to use social media. Don't go out and tweet the wrong things or be dumb about it. At Gravity Summit we work hard to help organizations, managers, and players understand the power of social media and the perils as well.

Free advice to Peyton: Get busy and extend your personal brand via a solid social platform. My team is happy to help you with this task.

Who knows, you could join Warren and receive next year's Gravity Summit Social Media award.

We'd love to tweet that news out!