Friday, March 4, 2011

Athletes and Social Media: A Lethal Cocktail

We Savages love sports. Always have. Mix fierce physical competition with amazing genuine drama...what's not to love? By extension, we develop our own fan relationships with the athletes involved in these glorious games. We grew up on Jordan, Griffey, Montana, Gretzky, Elway, Ripken, and a whole slew of others...hell, even Tyson wandered in there from time to time. We knew they all probably had their demons (ok, some more than others), but we didn't care. We didn't get to (or have to) see that side of them. We'd watch the games and occasionally watch a pregame interview where they said all the right things. For the most part, all we saw was a number on the back of an idealized athlete. I don't even think we wanted any more than that. Ignorance was bliss. We knew they made a lot of money and drove fancy cars and bought big houses...but there was a part of us that thought maybe, just maybe, we could relate to these people on some level. Then...the relentless world of overexposure arrived.

We were gonna get to know these guys whether we liked it or not. Suddenly, seemingly every athlete with a computer was jumping on Twitter or Facebook (or Myspace for the old schoolers). The days of rooting for an athlete purely for what he did on the field were over. It turns out that all these athletes were people, just like you and us, and they wanted an outlet to communicate with whoever would listen. But, would that necessarily be a bad thing? After all, most of these guys are multi-millionaires and even "college-educated." They surely can put a cohesive thought bad can it be? That question was answered resoundingly as their "personalities" were rolled out into the public repulsive as we could have imagined.

No, not repulsive from a moral standpoint. I honestly don't give a shit about one's lifestyle choices. Do your own thing, and make as money as you possibly can in your short careers. Repulsive from the perspective of "Why the hell am I actually spending my time and money rooting/caring for most of these dipshits?" It was an eye opener for us, something that couldn't be reversed. Of course they, or anyone for that matter, have the right to speak their mind and have it be heard, but as our favorite rock star chaotician would say, they're "so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

It comes down to this: do we as fans actually want to know what's going through Tony Romo or Kevin Garnett's heads at any given moment? I, for one, sure as hell don' it turns out. It's my own fault, really. Why be so damn naive as to think some rich, 20-something, mega-famous athlete would actually come off as likable when the filter has been taken off? I mean, seriously...take a few minutes and read some athletes' "tweets"'s like reading the ramblings of a mentally challenged yet uber-arrogant 7 year old. If I want that, I'll put on MTV or buy (insert any number of rap albums). Couple that with the oh-so-obnoxious-yet-commonplace trend of celebrating like an utter dickhead after making a routine tackle, and fuck it, I'm finding something else to do on Sundays.

Accessibility can be a dangerous thing. At what point does appeal decrease? I don't wanna see the man behind the curtain at all times, but it seems that I'm in the minority. Is it part of going from mini-Savage to grownup-Savage? Maybe...maybe not (...maybe fuck yourself). First, the media decided to stick a mike in every athlete's face. Then, athletes were presented with the technology, along with the rest of us, to post anything and everything that comes to mind. The athletes didn't change...the world did. If you're thinking to yourself how ironic it is that I'm writing on a BLOG about how cyber-communication can have unfortunate consequences in the wrong hands...A) you've missed my point...and B) I implore you to ask yourself the same question I found myself asking when reading/watching athletes' gibberish-inspired spouting: "Is this shit worth my time?"

Just for the record, we still love sports. Just, ya know, not as much as the days when we could pretend some of these guys were worth rooting for.


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