10 sports YouTube sensations [part 1]

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YouTube has changed the way fans, agents, scouts and clubs alike view sports prospects – being able to watch a quick video online to see what the athlete is all about could turn out to be priceless in this day and age. This kind of promotion has multiple effects: athletes hope to get extra recognition and additional media coverage to reach fans. On the other hand, agents, scouts or club officials instantly save their time and money to find out if the athlete really could be the next sports star.

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to smartphones and other gadgets, the technology (and price) of recording (quality enough) videos has never been so easy and accessible. The distribution and promotion has never been so simple either. Creating buzz with social media around the video posted on YouTube (or other service) opens entirely new fields and dimensions.

There is certain potential – or at least hope – the video will be seen by the specific target groups (agents, scouts, clubs…); or even to become viral. That’s why it’s not a coincidence that more and more athletes (or their parents) are using this kind of tool to draw attention. Hey, why not!? Video (footage), its distribution and promotion won’t cost you much or won’t cost you at all.

However, everyone should be aware there’s no pre-determined scenario; success of the video depends on many (also random) factors. Anyway, it’s worth to give it a shot, right!? That was probably on the mind of the 5 athletes listed below (and some of their parents), who became YouTube sensations and made a notable step forward in their respective sport careers. Of course, there are many more other fantastic video sensations; we focused on some interesting examples and stories. Check them out below!

(Note: other 5 examples to be published in Part 2)

1. Luiz Henrique dos Santos (Football): Real Madrid signs wunderkind

YouTube views319,718 (as of May 23, 2012)
Posted: Mar 27, 2009

Real Madrid was made aware of Brazilian Luiz Henrique dos Santos from a video posted on YouTube by the boy’s father. “When I saw his talent, I bought a camera in order to help my child develop his talent,” said Amaro dos Santos. Two years after the video was posted, La Liga winners Real Madrid are closing in on the signing of 13-year-old Brazilian football wunderkind Luiz Henrique dos Santos “Pety”!


2. Jacob Tucker (Basketball): Division III player wins NCAA dunk contest

YouTube views5,087,525 (as of May 23, 2012)
Posted: Mar 3, 2011

When Illinois College guard Jacob Tucker originally contacted the organizers of a college slam dunk contest about allowing him to participate, they told him Division III players typically lack the notoriety needed to receive an invitation. Needless to say, Tucker stumbled upon a solution to that problem. A two-minute YouTube video he created to promote his candidacy for the contest last year attracted more than 500,000 viewers in just five days! “At this point, it would almost be bad publicity for them if they don’t let me in,” he joked before finally getting the invitation. Epilogue? Jacob grabbed the opportunity with both hands, winning the NCAA slam dunk championship in 2011!


3. Alex Tanney (American Football): Trick Shot Quarterback

YouTube views2,421,923 (as of May 23, 2012)
Posted: Feb 20, 2011

I’m from a small school, and the only thing I’ve ever really wanted was an opportunity,” the 23-year-old Alex Tanney recently said about the opportunity he got thanks to his YouTube video, which was enough to make him an overnight sensation for displaying his uncanny accuracy. “We really didn’t expect it to take off like it did. It kind of blew up.” Tanney created a big buzz last year in the self-titled Trick Shot Quarterback video, which has received more than 2.4 million hits since he and his friends posted it in February 2011. Several NFL teams asked him to compete in their rookie minicamps, and he accepted the invitation of the Buffalo Bills.


4. Jarron Gilbert (American Football): Jumps out of a swimming pool

YouTube views4,087,439 (as of May 23, 2012)
Posted: Aug 4, 2008

Former San Jose State defensive end Jarron Gilbert got a great deal of notoriety for a 2008 YouTube video, in which he displayed his athleticism and explosiveness just before the 2009 NFL draft. The video might be the all-time »heavyweight« champion in the category of YouTube videos! This is Jarron Gilbert. He’s 6’5″ (1,95 m) and 287 pounds (130 kg). And he’s going to jump out of a swimming pool!


5. Toddler Baerke van der Meij (Football): 18-month old is signed by club

YouTube views1,059,540 (as of May 23, 2012)
Posted: Apr 22, 2011

Last but not least! The 18-month old Toddler Baerke van der Meij has been signed up to a Dutch first division football team Venlose Voetbal Vereniging (VVV) last year after winning YouTube fame following a quick kickabout against his toybox. He was offered the symbolic contract, which is normally valid for ten years. The contract was celebrated at the stadium with a glass of orange juice. His favorite position has not yet been determined, the club said in a statement. “However, we can speak of a right-footed player with a very good kicking technique, perseverance and, importantly, football genes via his grandfather.”

Note: other 5 examples to be published in Part 2

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