Investigating the softball digital culture on Instagram allowed me to further understand the sport in very new and enlightening ways. Although technology has not always been a part of this sport, it is only inevitable that technology is here to stay. Therefore, those who are a part of the softball community in some way should understand how the sport has changed and evolved as a result of this digital culture, because it will only continue to do so. As mentioned, some will argue that social media has done nothing but hurt the softball community but it is neccessary to understand how it has also helped the sport grow. As with any argument, there is some validity to each side and it is important to attempt to understand both.
I found exploring the media ideologies of the sport to be extremely fascinating because it is something I have experienced on a first hand basis. When girls post about commiting to play softball at the Division 1 collegiate level, it creates a sense of obligation for those who are uncommitted to do the same. Also some of the considerably strange aspects of the sport, such as softball “lingo”, were very interesting to look into. There is a mutually agreed upon softball language to which all players seem to quickly catch on. It was also very fascinating to observe how certain members of the softball community have been able to gain “status” on social media as a result of their success in the sport, business ventures, or both.
While looking at the thousands of posts by girls who have commited to play Division 1 softball, I found it very interesting that many girls captioned their images with phrases along the lines of, “I hope I have made my parents proud”. It seems clear that many girls who are choosing to play softball at the collegiate level are doing so because they believe they must please their parents. I have seen this happen multiple times, even with close friends of mine. As far as softball lingo, I realized that these certain terms, phrases, and cheers are never actually taught. As a softball player growing up, I felt as though I always knew the lingo and my college teammates from different parts of the country all know them as well. Softball lingo is universal and simply acquired like a language which is a testament to the way the softball culture spreads throughout the country. It was also unexpected to realize how large of a following some of the figure heads of the softball community have obtained on social media. Some of these women have upwards of five hundred thousand followers on Instagram and I was surprised when I realized how large the softball community has become
In conclusion, this scrapbook has given me the opportunity to further understand the softball digital community on Instagram. The implementation of social media has allowed the softball community to expand significantly. When high school aged players post about committing to play softball at the collegiate level, they are inspiring the younger generation to strive for the same goal. On the other hand, these types of posts may very well be the source of stress for many young players who are still uncertain about their future in softball. The pressure to play collegiate softball has never been as great as it is now, and I would argue that much of this pressure can be attributed to social media. Social media has become a naturalized aspect of the softball community, seeing as there are nearly three-million posts under “#softball”. Therefore, I am hopeful that rather than continuing to add pressure to young players, this new implementation of technology has the ability to continue changing the sport for the better