The Internet saved sports media, or did it?
Social media and websites offer revolutionary ways for fans to receive and produce content.
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I’m a high school student and I hate being bored, but I love sports. Chances are, when I am 30 years old, I will still hate being bored and love sports.
The good news for me is that anytime I am bored I hop on Twitter or TeamStream and am instantly engulfed in sports up to my ears.
“I didn’t read the newspaper, and the Internet was just getting started when I was in high school,” former Grantland and current Ringer staff writer Shea Serrano said. “There wasn’t a certain place to get stuff, I didn’t even have an e-mail address until I was in college.”
The NBA playoffs produce some of the best moments in all of sports, and these moments come with names that any sports fan knows. In 2016 we had “the block”, which consisted of Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James running the length of the court to block the Golden State Warriors power forward Andre Iguodala at the end of game seven of the NBA Finals to win Cleveland its’ first major sports title since 1964.
In 1995, the playoffs used a coy basketball star from the Indiana Pacers to out the New York Knicks as the “choke artists” they were. Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 8.9 seconds to vault his Pacers over the rival Knicks after being down six points with under 15 seconds remaining, all while trash talking the opposing players along with obnoxious Knicks superfan and movie director Spike Lee.
“I had turned the game off when [the Knicks] went up six, ‘I was like forget this I’m pissed’,” Serrano said. “A few minutes later my phone rings and it’s my buddy who’s like, ‘oh my god man, you missed it,’ there was no way for me to see what happened, he was telling me everything but I couldn’t rewind the TV, there was no Internet, so I had to just wait for the next day on TV to maybe see a blurb about it.”
MAMA THERE GOES THAT MAN
— reid valentine (@reidv9) June 20, 2016
This was my tweet in response to LeBron’s momentous block, after hitting the post button I went straight to my home feed on Twitter and watched the superhuman play over and over. Millions did the same as I, all sharing in the historic moment together, instantly.
We no longer have to wait for the next day’s paper, or the three-minute sports segment on our local news broadcast to hear of the previous day’s sports news. It’s all on our iPhones in a matter of seconds with every opinion possible being thrown into the crazy huge platform that is sports media.
Although Reggie Miller might not have broken Twitter with his otherworldly performance, he was absolutely the most talked about figure in break rooms and man caves for days. Conversations were still had (although not by Serrano apparently), opinions were thrown around and arguments surely erupted.
“The delivery system has probably changed more than anything else,” Washington Redskins director of communications Ross Taylor said. “I’m only 27 [years old] so someone 10 years older than me may have a different view, but I think there is a lot more multimedia out there right now like videos and podcasts and things of that nature because publishers are starting to value it more.”
Taylor is a 2007 Coppell High School graduate and former Sidekick editor-in-chief.
This delivery system is without a doubt the Internet, and this mode started as just a way to post content that would already be in the newspapers while adding a few extra stories here and there. Now sites such as sbnation.com exist that are purely online and interact with readers allowing them to have an effect on the articles, videos and podcasts produced.
“I mostly get my [sports] through my phone on apps like Twitter, Barstool, or TeamStream,” senior Coppell pitcher Clayton Jones said. “You can personalize your stream and feed for all of your teams. I like being able to scroll through and see players and certain plays after they’ve happened then reading articles on them.”
In essence, people can cultivate, through their laptops and smartphones, a sports media experience of 100 percent their choosing. My TeamStream app on my iPhone is set to only deliver information about Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Texas Longhorns; this personalization was not possible even five years ago. This, paired with Twitter, has revolutionized what being a fan really means.
Through social media I can express myself through pictures or 140 characters, yelling through my thumbs to my followers what I think to be true and worthwhile. Whether it be that Tom Brady is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time (because he is) or that Kevin Durant moving to the Golden State Warriors was the weakest thing he’s done besides losing a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals; right or wrong, my voice is heard loud and clear.
This capability begets a problem, everyone is a journalist now. Anyone can Tweet about an event, or create a Facebook page to post their articles, the Internet has given this power to anyone with fingers and the desire to share opinions. One of the great things about our country is the fact that the first thing on the Bill of Rights is our freedom of speech, but this has led to saturation of opinions in sports media. Suddenly, @aggiesfan2013 claims to be the all knowing figure of Texas A&M football and can sling around the false idea that Johnny Manziel is destined for NFL stardom.
At the end of the day, everyone who is on SportsCenter, verified on Twitter or on any podium to shout their two cents, is just another sports fan who revels in the fact that people will listen to their (not always) thoughtful take on things. The only two differences between @RealSkipBayless and I are two million Twitter followers and the fact he gets paid a boatload of money to shove his opinion down my throat on his terrible new FS1 show.
“Sports fandom is getting progressively worse, the only things that survive now are hot takes,” Dallas Morning News sports writer Ben Baby said. “The way we consume media leaves no market for substantial objective opinions, it moves so fast that people feel like they need to have a hot take to be noticed.”
The sports fan is in a state in this day and age where most of them simply will not listen to another’s argument because they are so convinced that their singular opinion is right, and no amount of evidence or proof will change their mind. Sports writers have no choice but to cater to this ignorance, so in turn, they produce inflammatory or polarizing statements just so that they can be heard.
The other end of the spectrum for sports writers is the feeling that they have to cater to what their readers want to hear, even if it is not always the truth. This problem lies deeper than just sports media. In today’s world, people have no stomach for criticism, which in turn leads to them never having a chance to improve. We’ve all seen a guy who was too coddled that ends up worse in the long run because no one told him the truth, the average sports fan is turning into a twisted sheltered Jaden Smith.
“If people only told me the good things that I wanted to hear, I would never get better,” Baby said. “You have got to be able to see what your faults and weaknesses are so you can be better for them. A lot of fans only want to hear the good stuff on their team, but the beauty of sports and sports media is your weak spots will get exposed.”
Doors have been opened by sports media’s transformation to being on the internet and becoming interactive, information is ready 24/7 and updated constantly. Articles, videos and tweets are produced about every team and player at rates never seen before.
Sports media has truly gone through a revolution, but is the fan ruining it?