10 Examples of Viral Social Media in High School Sports
Going viral is great for a school’s brand.
While the kids all seem to know what that means, we felt it was important to identify some fantastic examples in the high school arena. Viral is a general definition. It indicates that the content posted was seen by a lot of people fast. Specifically – Urban Dictionary describes viral in the following way: an image, video, or link that spreads rapidly through a population by being frequently shared with a number of individuals… If it receives 40,000 hits in 4 hours, but then dwindles, it could still be considered “viral”.
Although the first viral videos started on YouTube, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have made overnight stardom a regular occurrence. These social media starlets can momentarily bring attention to a social cause or an extraordinary talent. Below are examples of different high school athletes that have gone viral and the lessons that they can bring.
When it seems that negative stories are constantly being shared, these videos remind us of how important it is to try to spread joy and understanding to those around us.
Sharing a Prayer
One Texas high school senior shared a moment a prayer with a player from the opposing team. Gage Smith approached former 7-on-7 teammate Ty Jordan after the end of a game. Jordan’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, so Smith found him after the game to share a prayer for Jordan and his family. After a candid picture was sent to Jordan’s aunt, she posted it on Facebook. It quickly received over 100,000 likes before the post was made private. Smith reminds us to share compassion and faith with those around us, opponents or not.
Bringing the School Together
After learning American Sign Language over the summer, Idaho senior Jonathan Edwards decided he wanted to use his newfound skill to bring people together. Suited up and ready for his last homecoming game, Edwards took to the conductor’s podium to perform the National Anthem. A video taken by his mother was shared on Facebook, where it’s collected over 3 million views. Members of the deaf community nationwide were proud to see a song that is so special to many Americans made accessible to all.
Standing Up to Bullies
When freshman Michael Todd began high school, he was continuously bullied for wearing the same outfit to school for three weeks. After football player Kristopher Graham laughed along with the other kids, he decided to make things right. He gathered clothes from his closet as well as a pair of new shoes. He enlisted his friend and fellow football player, Antwann Garrett, to bring additional; items to give to Todd.
Other students recorded and posted a video online of Todd being gifted the new clothing. The video spread and soon people from across the nation were interested in sending in clothes and donations to Todd and other students in the school. Eventually, the three students were invited onto the Ellen Show. There, Will Smith made a donation to help give clothes to every student in the school, where many of the students live below the national poverty line.
A Team on and off the Feild
When a football coach in North Carolina found out that one of his players was homeless, he took him into his home. Braheam Murphy was sleeping on friends’ couches when his coach, Sam Greiner, would give him rides after practice. After Greiner found out more about Murphy’s situation, his family took him in as their own. He quickly became a part of the Greiner family, who already had two young children. 2 years after finding his home, Murphy raised his GPA from a 1.8 to a 3.7 and made a 95-yard touchdown to finish up the championship game (30-22). Greiner’s compassion and Murphy’s resilience demonstrates how much growth is possible once people are given the opportunity to succeed.
Following the lead of the 2019 US Women’s Soccer Team, one team in Vermont decided to create an Equal Pay Nike jersey to highlight the discrepancies between men and women’s pay. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and his wife posted a picture on Twitter donning their Equal Pay jerseys along with a link to the promo video made by the team. The team also received a Twitter shoutout from two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold-medalist, Brandi Chastain. The team sells the jerseys in collaboration with local nonprofit Change the Story to raise awareness of gender wage inequality. The jerseys cost $25, but men are invited to pay an additional $4.80 to represent how much more men are paid. The money raised from the jerseys goes towards their local girls’ youth soccer league.
Stand Up For What’s Right
After losing his hearing and sight at the age of 8, Marvin Pearson was still determined to play football. He later joined his high school team and plays as both a running back and quarterback. His story is one of triumph and determination and is sure to inspire even when the odds seem impossible.
Nurturing Talent/Bring Attention to Program
When players bring extraordinary talent and passion to their sport, it’s evident. Here are some videos that showcase some of the best players high school athletic programs have to offer.
Catching the Moves on Camera
Autumn Finney, a Texas high school senior, makes an incredible save after leaping over a fallen teammate. The clips from the volleyball match took off on Twitter and even got a reply from Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings. The clip was #1 on Sports Center’s 10 Neighborhood Plays of the Week and was nominated for an ESPY Award for Best Play.
A junior from the DMV, Antwain Littleton has the range to play on the defensive line and as a running back. At 285-pounds, Littleton has the agility to keep up with someone half his size. This was made clear when a video went viral of him taking a handoff where he slid past a defender, hurdled over another player, and then shook off a tackle all before getting taken down for a run of about 40-yards. Soon after the highlight reel was shared onto Twitter, it was shared by musical artist Wale.
Proud to be Different
In the town of Riverdale, the California School for the Deaf is located. There they have a football team made up entirely of deaf players. The team had a game broadcasted on ESPN2 in the midst of a great season where they regularly play against hearing teams, with one loss out of 10 games. They’re able to give direct directions to their teammates by signing while on the field. Their talent is undeniable and motivational.
Rob Mendez was awarded the ESPY Jimmy V award, an award given to “a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.” Mendez was born with a rare medical disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome. Mendez fell in love with football through the video game Madden. Throughout his high school career, Mendez served as a manager for his football team, eventually becoming the team’s quarterback coach his senior year. Following over a decade of assistant coaching at many different high schools, he became the JV head coach of Prospect High School in California. It was there he really got to shine- he led his team to an 8-2 season his first year. But it was Mendez’s moving speech that made him a social media star. He sang accolades to the game of football and its power to build character. The lessons of the game are applicable to many aspects of life, and Mendez was sure to let the audience know that.