ESPN: Did They Start a Trend? Or Simply Hop on Board?

Oklahoma State Sophomore Point Guard Marcus Smart kicks a chair at the OSU bench in a conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 25, 2014. (via Phog.net)

Oklahoma State Sophomore Point Guard Marcus Smart kicks a chair at the OSU bench in a conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 25, 2014. (via Phog.net)

On April 2nd the annual McDonald’s High School All-American Game was on ESPN, showcasing next year’s prospective “One-and-done’s” in College Basketball.  These are kids who haven’t even graduated from High School yet, and one still has not decided where he is going to go to college.

None of these kids that played last night are going to pay a dime for college.  And in most cases, they will only be in college for one year before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is calling their names out in June 2015 when they are drafted.

On National Signing Day every February, ESPN does a massive Signing Day special on their flagship program SportsCenter as well as live coverage all day long on ESPNU.

Once they get into college, you can safely guess that they treat all of these star athletes just as they did Marcus Smart through this past College Basketball season.  When they play well, they continue to overhype how good they really are.  If they don’t play well, then ESPN traditional treats it as if it’s the end of that player’s career and they no longer will get drafted.

Seriously? (Click here for ESPN’s coverage of Smart’s chair incident)

Nevermind the fact that these are 18-22 year-old kids that are still growing up.  ESPN blows collegiate athletics way out of proportion.

I believe that ESPN started this whole trend, and we all hopped on board with them because they are “the Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

The TV Effect

New York Knicks Forward Carmelo Anthony argues with Joey Crawford while he was still playing in Denver. (via Sports Illustrated)

New York Knicks Forward Carmelo Anthony argues with Joey Crawford while he was still playing in Denver. (via Sports Illustrated)

Many young athletes watch some of their favorite players on television.  When I was just starting my playing career in basketball, I would watch Manu Ginobili almost every night during the Spurs’ games that actually got televised.  It took a few times of my coach yelling at me for me to understand that I wasn’t a guard and probably shouldn’t try Manu’s moves.

However, this problem is worse with the new generation of beginning basketball players.  When you look at the egos in the NBA today like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, they don’t leave good impressions.  These are the three NBA players who argue the most with officials, and for the most part these three players get away with it. (Click herefor a study of the effects of televised sports on youth)

Many skilled youth who watch these games see that these skilled players are arguing and pleading with officials, and try to do the same thing and are surprised when the official slaps them with a technical foul that they very well deserve.

While watching television can do a lot of positives for an athlete, it can also give them an ego so big that no scouts would be likely to look at them because of their attitude.

Hungry? Try the new “Money Diet”

Robinson Cano at a press conference after signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. (Photo via NY Post)

Robinson Cano at a press conference after signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. (Photo via NY Post)

Professional athletes, especially Major League Baseball players typically sign huge, multi-million dollar contracts to play for their respective teams.  For instance, this past off-season Robinson Cano left the New York Yankees, who are notorious for having several players who fit this category, for the Seattle Mariners.  Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle. (Click here for an article on Robinson Cano with the Seattle Mariners)

Even by baseball standards (given that baseball is easily the highest-paying professional sport in the United States, this is a huge contract for Cano, and a huge gamble by the Mariners at the same time.  Cano has been in the majors for several years already and has even missed games due to an injury.

When I was still in high school, we held a surprise party for one of my friend’s birthdays at his house.  His dad hunts with the gentlemen that began coaching Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at Peterson Middle School in Kerrville, Texas in the 7th grade.  When Manziel moved up to Tivy High School in 9th grade, so did this coach.

My friend’s dad told me after Manziel’s first 7th-grade game, the coach told him to remember the name Johnny Manziel because he would be special.  In high school, being from the San Antonio area, I got to witness how special first hand when he scored 7 touchdowns against SA Madison his sophomore year on a Thursday night game early in the season.

Back to the birthday party, we started talking about Texas A&M’s seemingly miraculous season under new coach Kevin Sumlin and my friend’s dad said, “Manziel is done after next year.  Dad’s extremely money hungry.”  Now, two months before the NFL Draft, Manziel has an agent and should be a top-10 pick.

Maziel is not the only one. Money hunger is extremely evident in sports, at all levels.

The “Twittersphere” of Sports

Sports "experts" tend to have anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of Twitter followers. (Photo courtesy of Jay Bilas on Twitter)

Sports “experts” tend to have anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of Twitter followers. (Photo courtesy of Jay Bilas on Twitter)

Social media in sports is absolutely huge now.  Almost all of the heralded “experts” from the major networks like ESPN, Fox Sports or CBS Sports have all kinds of followers and constantly tweet about a vast array of topics.

For instance, over the course of this past Saturday, March 1st, ESPN College Basketball Analyst Jay Bilas was tweeting between his time on College Gameday and performing his duties during the Kansas-Oklahoma State game at Gallagher-Iba Arena, about a lot of events happening throughout the day, including the stand-off between Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and one of the referees. (For Jay Bilas’ Twitter account, click here)

Sometimes, the tweets from these “experts” are even quoted in articles written in any medium from online news articles to blogs and sometimes, other tweets.  Twitter is used by some people to break news.  For instance, during the Summer 2013 when New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder, the Patriots announced that they had released Hernandez over Twitter.  Sometimes recruits announce their commitment to a school over Twitter.  In other instances, blogs use tweets to convey an opinion they may have. (For an example of this, click here)

Regarless of the use, there is no denying that sports now have a certain “twittersphere” about it.