By Will Stevenson
Oh Summer, why doth thou forsake thee? If I were into baseball as I once was, then the sports calendar wouldn’t be a bottomless pit full of coach talk hypothetical lists. What I have noticed during the “off-season” is sports fans grasp for anything to talk about, and when the major sports aren’t on television, their true colors come raining down. Opinions, or reactions have used to be marred back in the day before social media. Even if your co-worker told you Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest player of all-time, you may counter with Bill Russell, and then that would be the end of it. Now, that conversation can and will be had around a million times a day, every day. The comment section has become America’s fine dining establishment where anyone can go to be heard. Never mind the fact there are hired commentators for every website and Facebook as well. Nevertheless, we are drawn to any story that can give us substance, and if it doesn’t have any, we will hypothetically make something interesting out of it.
The summer months will now be known for domestic violence allegations, NBA Free Agency, NFL Minicamps, draft stock, front office movement and League posturing for the upcoming seasons. The News Cycle comes and goes so quickly, it is hard to keep up with what is new news, and what is old news. Remember the OJ Simpson coverage? Ezekiel Elliott? The continuous Kyrie and Melo trade rumors. Remember when Phil Jackson left the Knicks? How about the Mayweather/McGregor pre-fight world tour? Lavar Ball? Almost every one of these stories has been covered in the past month or two, or even a few weeks ago, but now they are old news. The current media conversation revolves around Colin Kaepernick, Josh Rosen, NBA trade rumors and the obligatory “Top ‘insert number’ list” for the sports we love.
The ‘off-season’ sports cycle brings about something different inside the sports fan: Real Feelings. Each topic in the above paragraph brings out conversations that most are not comfortable with in an open forum. All you have to do is click on a Colin Kaepernick link to see what America thinks as a whole on the topic. No longer are “X’s and O’s” the end all be all to our sports allegiances. During the season we will all watch the Redzone Channel, pregame shows, follow fantasy leagues and forget all about what Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe were debating because there is now a box score to look at. During the summer months, there is no place for “Stick to Sports” to hide. Honestly, there are other things we could pay attention to, but what fun would that be? I don’t mind a conversation on any of these topics, nor do I mind to read up on the many debates of my fellow Bookers and Tweeters. I have one question: Are we evolving through these topics, or do we just want to be right? I always wonder what the agenda is of a post about Lavar Ball, or a “Kaepernick is not being blackballed” thread. I wonder if people even care what is going on, or is there only goal to ruffle feathers, and are they being paid to do it? From what I have witnessed, more people have equipped themselves with knowledge on these topics, while others continue to say the same old ignorance.
Not only have the commentators been open to the non-sports topics, the media has jumped into the pot as well. No longer do fans have to sit around and wonder if the people they see on camera feel the same way they feel. More and more commentators are freely putting their stamp on their message about topics that go on outside the realms of actual game-play. I enjoy it, even Will Cain. There can’t be a Ray Lewis without a Shannon Sharpe. There can’t be a Will Cain without a Bomani Jones. For my selfish reasons, I want all the opinions to be out there, running rampant as closeted PCers race to find a boring monologue to post in response.
It is weird how the sports world is portrayed against the entertainment world. Many of us are old enough to remember Beavis & Butthead, SouthPark and StickDeath.com, but somehow a player flipping a bat after a homerun, or a player high-stepping into the endzone is cause for uproar. More people are tuning in to politics, but do not want politics near their sports.
Maybe it will never change. Maybe those who post things will never concede to racism in sports, college athletics being a non-competitive industry, or the need to treat athletes as humans like us. Maybe people still believe marijuana should never be used, but Oxycontin is just fine. Who knows. All I know is I love the summer months, because Stick to Sports has no place to hide.