For those of you who love sports you have to check out ESPN’s First Take, a morning sports show that debates various topics in the sporting world (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/feature/index?page=firsttake). Often the show invites famous players or even other analysts from other sports shows for these discussions. Today’s show, however, switched the script: a former NBA player Jalen Rose (who now works for ESPN) began to debate the role of the media and whether the media should be the subject of debate in the same way that the players are. This was not planned nor scripted. The debate suddenly turned into a heated argument when during yesterday’s show Jalen Rose questioned Skip Bayless’s credentials as a sports analyst and even brought up Skip’s highschool basketball stats as evidence of his own lack of abilities (Skip is an sports and analysts and works on First Take). The remarks were bizarre and seemingly out of left field, so much so that people on twitter began debating what Jalen was talking about. On First Take today, Jalen Rose and Skip explained that two week’s ago Skip had made a comment on twitter that rubbed Jalen the wrong way. Skip says that because Twitter has a character limit he was not able to write everything he meant to say and that his comments were misunderstood (I’m not really sure what Skip wrote on Twitter. I believe it had to do with Jalen and his own high school playing days, but I could be entirely wrong! However, the fact that Twitter has a character limit is interesting in its own right. What type of news does it allow for then? Is Twitter a new kind of reporting that needs its own rules and regulations?)
Anyway, the point is that this was so fascinating to watch for two reason. Firstly, you could not simply watch the show and understand what was going on. The show began to live simultaneously on television and Twitter as people were weighing in from all across America. The show ended up focusing on this topic for over an hour! Secondly, it was so interesting to see just how explosive social media has become. In essence the show became a introspective look at the role of media in regards to sports and how Twitter and Blogs (like this one) have put the media itself under the microscope much like the players are. I’ve never seen a sports show suddenly stop discussing the actual sporting events and start debating its own role and its own purpose when it comes to sports. This self-awareness was so intriguing and sports fans on Twitter were so excited that, like I said before, the show spent the entire time debating this topic.
I think that this is actually something we have been leaning towards in sports and at large. That is to say, as an audience we have become fasicnated not only about the actual sporting events, but the media that portrays and delivers these events to us. Members of the media are becoming more aware of their new and unique role within the sports world, so that now they are becoming their own topic of debate.
If you watch Sportcenter carefully, you’ll notice that this self-awareness has become increasingly popular. For instance, nearly all sports shows have begun showing the behind the scenes of a set at the beginning of the show or during a commercial break. In fact, not too long ago on First Take one of the moderators for the show, Jay Crawford, during the actual show showed to the audience the props used on the show, such as his notes and computer. While, of course, we know that there are sets and props on all television shows, but the fact that the show itself is willing to acknowledge that is something entirely different and was not something that was happening ten, fifteen years ago (even reality shows, such as Jersey shore don’t do that). On the flip side, we see that more and more players begin to reference the media itself during their interviews and on Twitter. For instance, they debate amongst themselves, much like paid analyst do, who should be on Sportscenter’s top ten plays ie. Lebron James commenting on Blake Griffin’s dunk over Perkins:”Dunk of the Year!! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I’m #2 now. Move over #6” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt3HhUDM-wk). Perkins took exception to this and responded also on Twitter to Lebron’s comments. The media, and First Take in particular, then commented on both player’s comments -and around and around it went/goes.
This should not be too surprising, however. As Dr. Richard Miller pointed out to me last year during an interview I did as part of a project for this class, social media has in effect helped turn the camera on ourselves. We have become more self-aware as a result and apparently so has social media.
Really, though, check it out for yourself. Even if you don’t follow sports, you’ll like the debate!