Sports and Social Media Connect Generations

A grandfather and his grandson posing happily with a football field in the background. Social Media to Connect GenerationsCould social media be considered a sport? It’s certainly leveled the playing field between generations.

Technology itself has not just provided a tool that connects families and friends living on opposite sides of the country – it’s bridged the gap between the old and the young. It’s also given teammates, former players and retired coaches the chance to stay in one another’s lives long past their glory days.

Mentoring the Next Generation Starts Close to Home

Retired football coach John Radcliffe spent his life learning from the gridiron and using his own experience to teach future generations. He was a standout high school football star who went on to play for the University of Wyoming. After that, he coached and taught in Massachusetts for thirty years.

One of his most important roles as a mentor came when his grandson was born nineteen years ago – and a respect for the game continues to run in the family. Two-time All-State quarterback Michael Walsh had a stellar playing career at Moses Brown in Providence and is now a freshman at Brown University.

“Michael and I were very close growing up, even though I lived in Massachusetts,” Radcliffe said. “We used to talk every night on the phone.”

A grandfather and his grandson posing happily with a football field in the background. Social Media to Connect Generations

Radcliffe is now a Rhode Islander, but when he was living in Massachusetts and his grandson, Walsh, was growing up in East Greenwich, RI, they would have nightly phone chats. Radcliffe would share stories of his playing days, lessons he learned from the Marine Corps and guidance inspired by the pair’s mutual love for football.

“I think one of the life lessons is not giving up of course, and the discipline that’s involved,” Radcliffe said. “The idea of staying with something, dealing with the different adversity that occurs in the course of a season, the hard work that’s required from it and the respect for your teammates, certainly.”

As Walsh gets older and he adapts to a hectic college football schedule, the nightly phone chats might no longer be a staple but a strong family commitment is still present. The tight relationship he has with Radcliffe continues today.

“Oh, I never miss a game.” Radcliffe said. “I don’t read him stories anymore, but I send him some inspirational quotes on game day.”

John Radcliffe and Michael Walsh pose proudly together in front of an empty football field. Social Media to Connect Generations

Everyone knows the communication playing field has changed. The days of newspaper clippings and landline phones are slipping away while the times of social media scrolling and high quality cell phone cameras are sitting on the stoop each morning.

But the switch from paper boys to YouTube stars has by no means left older generations in the dust. In fact, a transition from the old ways to new tech has given proud grandparents the chance to help their grand-kids shine in new light – one that casts a soft glimmer on the face of every social media follower.

A New Way to Connect

For example, Radcliffe is able to create a social media scrapbook of Walsh’s biggest triumphs while supporting his grandson and staying connected with all of the characters he encountered throughout his own football history. Teammates are able to still cheer one another on with likes and comments online.

Michael Walsh accepting an offer to play football at Brown University.

Radcliffe’s online presence keeps him in contact with all of the friends, former students and players he had back in Massachusetts. It’s almost as if his Instagram account (@Radcliffe_John) is a new platform for him to continue being a coach, mentor and inspiring teacher. Though, he admits, he often has to give his grandson Michael a call when he has a question about technology.

Most grandparents can likely relate to that.

Three generations of the Radcliffe/Walsh family in their football uniforms. Social Media to Connect Generations

“I think just the communication it adds between family and friends,” Radcliffe said of his social media account, “For us, it’s been a very positive impact.”

Cox Communications, the largest private telecom company in America, shares similar sentiments regarding how broadband connectivity is most powerful when it creates more human connection.

Cox has launched a new initiative just in time for Grandparent’s day, on Sunday, September 8. ‘Grandstories‘ brings grandparents closer to their grandkids by teaching them how to make stronger connections with the people who matter most using social media.

Grandstories‘ reinforces Cox’s new brand positioning – ‘Bringing Us Closer’- by showcasing how life is better when people truly connect. The ‘Grandstories‘ films and related assets will be featured in social media and tips to help other grandparents and grandkids get connected are available on Converge, Cox’s content hub.