Leaving a Legacy in Today’s Social Media Society

  • December 17, 2015
  • Ryan Riggins

Yesterday was quite the conclusion to a memorable year in U.S. Women’s Soccer history.

Our women’s soccer team was set to play their last match of the year against China PR in an international friendly. To add to the excitement, this game was the final match of the United States’ Victory Tour celebrating this year’s Women’s World Cup win.

Even more importantly, it was the final match for the Greatest of all Time, “The GOAT,” Abby Wambach.

During her 14 years of play with the U.S. Women’s National Team, Wambach earned 255 international caps and scored 184 goals. She is a six-time U.S. Soccer “Female Athlete of the Year,” and helped lead the team to two Olympic Gold medals and one Women’s World Cup trophy.

Abby Wambach’s final match and retirement caused an uproar on social media. Gatorade, Nike, along with countless athletes and adoring fans joined in the social conversation to celebrate her incredible career.

Gatorade kicked off the day with a weighty post on Instagram.

Supporters of Abby and the U.S. team knew that this would be her last game, but this post from Gatorade was unexpected and powerful. The comments on the post are filled with crying emojis and thankful comments from fans. Shortly after, Gatorade released the following ad, which would give the image greater explanation.

A few hours later, Nike Soccer began to deliver the classiest Twitter Chat invitations you will ever see. Invites were directly addressed to big names like Kobe Bryant, Tim Howard, Sue Bird, and Tiger Woods. The event, which would be held on Twitter just before kickoff, promised a celebration of Abby’s final 90 minutes of play.

As I dug a bit deeper, I found that many of the stars replied to the invite with kind words recognizing Abby Wambach and her success, while others shared their thanks in video responses. Meanwhile, grateful fans joined in, sharing their own memories and gratitude on #184in90 (184 representing her career goal count during 90 minutes).

At 7:24 p.m., Nike Soccer began tweeting one memorable moment from Abby’s on-field achievements for each minute of the match. It was a powerful way to condense a 14-year career into 140 characters for all to remember. See the full celebration here.

The pre-match commentary included highlights of spectacular moments in Abby’s career both on, and off, the field. While her goal count and number of appearances for the U.S. is certainly a great achievement, the conversation of her lasting impact on women’s sports mattered most.

After the match, I continued to scroll through the celebratory posts on social media, but it wasn’t until I tried to send one of my own that I realized something was missing from all the social buzz. On the morning of her final game, Abby tweeted, “Make them forget me.” Hours after this message was sent, her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts were all deactivated, leaving this message behind.

@AbbyWambach does not exist

It was a powerful and unforgettable way for a celebrity in our social world to say goodbye to her game, her team, and her loyal fans. While this was a great campaign influenced by big-name athletes and brands, for the fans of the game this social media conversation carried considerable weight. For fans of Abby Wambach, The Greatest of All Time, this was a bittersweet farewell the world could share together.



Other good stuff in here