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 “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.

Fans and Ejections

A shot of Jeff Orr (man on the left) and Oklahoma State Guard Marcus Smart during Saturday's altercation in Lubbock.  Texas Tech won the game 65-61. (photo via KJRH-TV)

A shot of Jeff Orr (man on the left) and Oklahoma State Guard Marcus Smart during Saturday’s altercation in Lubbock. Texas Tech won the game 65-61. (photo via KJRH-TV)

Lately, a trend in sports seems to be to criticize referees for anything and everything.  Sometimes while watching a game either on television or in person, or even when playing I will hear someone say, “That ref doesn’t like us.”

I’m sorry, what?

The odds are that the officials do not have any sort of personal relation or affiliation with any school or person in their respective conference at any level of play, be it high school or college.  For instance, the son of legendary coach formerly at the University of North Carolina, Dean Smith, is a Division 1 referee.  However, he is not allowed to officiate in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The fact of the matter is that these officials go through countless hours of rules and mechanics training.  They know what can and cannot be done, and have their primary assignments while on the field or court.  As an example, the lead in 3-person mechanics for basketball has primary on contact below the shoulders, the trail has above the shoulders and the center has first dibs on the back side of the play.

To demonstrate another way fans can be ejected, we just need to rewind to last night, February 8th.  I was in Lubbock, Texas for the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech Men’s Basketball game in which OSU Guard Marcus Smart shoved TTU fan Jeff Orr in an altercation with only a few seconds remaining.  The long-term effects of this incident are yet to be seen, but Orr will not be attending any of the remaining Red Raider Basketball games and Smart has been suspended for the next 3 games at Texas, home against Oklahoma and at Baylor.  Smart will return against Texas Tech at home on Feb. 22. (Click here for Texas Tech University’s statement regarding the altercation)

If this trend of overly-rowdy fans doesn’t stop, it could get out of control.