When pop culture-obsessed artist Andy Warhol said, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” in 1968, color television had only recently become the household standard and personal computers were practically science fiction.
Warhol wasn’t responding to the culture and technology at the time, but anticipating where it was headed—he was describing the 21st Century concept of “going viral.”
Perhaps no industry benefited more from our ever-expanding ability to send information and images anywhere—almost instantaneously—than the sports industry. The major pro leagues, NCAA, sports media, fans and countless others are more connected, and exposed, than ever.
Today, social media is the latest innovation that’s graduated from an intriguing niche and into a force that’s transforming our economy and way of life. “Going viral” may stink of corporate jargon, but it’s evolved into a legit avenue for mass publicity at almost no cost; and it’s helped launch and re-launch careers in sports.
Viral sports videos—like 2012 NFL draft prospect Justin Bethel’s pool leap—posted on social media sites like YouTube and Reddit, find their way onto blogs, which then get the attention of major sports media organizations...and the rest is history.
And one awesome benefit of this Brave Viral World is that talented women in sports, who may have never gotten their “15 minutes” (outside a very narrow, local audience), are watching their careers take off thanks to our connected, shrinking world.
These are the 20 most viral women in sports.