Sports in the 2010's
The 2010's saw a new era of sports that is now having to pay the piper for the years of financial success with their exploding popularity on television and the internet. Sports are not going away and they continue to draw huge crowds, but with more access to players and decision makers fans are having a greater impact on the games.
In the world of the NBA you see players and the league leverage their social media platforms to engage fans and promote causes and social issues that concern them. Rappers and hip hop stars comment on players and team in their music and live-streaming games let fans comment in real time to broadcasters and players alike.
In the NFL new medical discovers highlighting the dangers of a collision sport like football led to a social movement to pay more attention to science and medicine when it comes to treating sports injuries. The NFL also demonstrates the struggle of operating a business and letting star athletes have an individual voice like the NBA. Ultimately, the NFL chose to silence players and critics highlighting the danger of the sport and it ultimately cost the NFL viewers and youth players in the 2010s.
Professional baseball also struggled with viewership through the 2010's as it grappled with a declining interest in the game from young Americans due to the pace of the game and some geographic barriers to entry for inner-city kids - particularly the African American community. New rules are introduced in this decade and marketing and youth programming campaigns worked to renew interest in America's game - a game that 40 years earlier was still America's most watched game.
Sports in the 2010's was definitely seeing some major changes, but the changes did not seem to be done yet as professional sports leagues learn how to interact with their fans in a new world of direct interaction and social responsibility.
Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)
Task 2: Review the provided images, videos and attached links for Sports during the 2010's (15 minutes)
Task 3: Investigating Sports and Politics (30 minutes)
As the new millennium arrived a renewed sense of importance was placed on the safety of players and the role of Athletes in society. These two major story lines mark much of what the 2010’s will be remembered for in sports. Your job will be to to:
Select ONE (1) moment in sports that relates to safety or Athletes and Activism during the 2010’s
Research the factors that surrounded this moment and its impact on the sport (or America’s response)
What has been done since to move forward
Write a News Story about the event using ‘The American’ newspaper template on GOOGLE CLASSROOM
Task 4: Submit Your Completed News Story on GOOGLE CLASSROOM
National Basketball Association
In the 2010's the NBA was continuing to grow at a rapid rate, while still behind the NFL in terms of ratings its audience base was growing and it's influence on American and world culture was evident. NBA players leveraged their celebrity on social media platforms since their inception and often speak about social issues that are of importance to them. This social awareness and willingness to let players be more than athletes helped the league and its players build relationships with their community. In addition, the sports world continued to collide with the music world as rappers and hip hop stars release music talking about players and team in the NBA, show up to games and are seen out on the town with NBA stars. This merging of two pop culture genres helps both the NBA and Hip Hop music to dramatically influence American culture throughout the 2010's.
The NBA and Social Media
The NBA has shown that social media can be a great tool in shaping social and political causes. It can do so if those causes are adopted by a strong and engaged organization with a broad reach. The NBA blows away every other professional sport in the world in terms of social media activity and engagement. It was the first major sport to pass over one billion followers on social media. No other league even comes close.
The NBA, its coaches, its players are among the most active participants on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the like. This allows it to reach people of different demographics, cultures, and places who use different social media platforms. It also allows the league to engage with fans even when nothing is available to watch live.
The NBA also does something the other leagues generally frown on, it uses social media to support the activist causes of its athletes and coaches. This lets the brand of what is basically an entertainment organization vouch for political and social causes. Being attached to the NBA gives those causes greater staying power. So, we see four-time MVP LeBron James and other league stars using technology to amplify awareness of the Black Lives Matter protests of killings of men like Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner. Or Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, taking to Twitter to speak out on anti-immigrant policies and gun violence.
Social media can amplify an activist cause, if the organization that uses these tools already transcends the bubbles we all recognize when we go online. We see that in action with the NBA. One hundred and forty characters can be used to gain great power and visibility, when you have the right organization behind it. (https://www.npr.org/2017/06/14/532772878/how-the-nba-has-used-social-media-to-move-the-ball-on-issues )
Hip Hop and the NBA
We see them at the games, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Drake and we know they rap about the NBA and its players in their songs. Yes, the NBA is a part of the hip hop culture. But beyond giving props to the players in their music and having them as a part of their entourage from time to time, the hip hop impact on the NBA has added something more important to the game. That something, in a word, is swagger, and it has made all the difference in the way NBA players approach the game.
Swagger has erased selfishness as a common trait in the NBA.
Hip hop is the culture that was born out of rap music. Within the culture there is a style of dress, a distinct language, of course rap music and a whole lot of swagger. It defines hip hop. In every song, with every new artist, video, album cover and even record label, rap artists position themselves as the greatest. Their songs boast of being the best, the very best.
How has this translated to the NBA? Well the NBA is more competitive now than it has ever been at any single point in recent memory. More importantly, its top players want to be the best, not just individually, but as a team. This is why Rajon Rondo called Chris Paul a hater, because he has a ring and Paul does not.
Consider some of the terms that are a part of the hip hop language: haters, diss and an old school term, perpetrators. These terms are all motivational for the NBA player. We consider the fan and media base that dislike Kobe Bryant and/or LeBron James to be haters. Their criticisms only ignites the fire in these players to be even more competitive. Witness the on-going feud between DeShawn Stevenson and LeBron James and how it has played out on the court in the past few years. (https://bleacherreport.com/articles/298652-how-hip-hop-has-helped-the-nba )
National Football League
The 2010's was a trying time of the NFL as its viewership began to decline and the league threw itself into the middle of one of the most contentious presidential races in American History. While the NFL is setting records for annual revenue it has had several issues throughout the 2010's that put the sports future in danger. While professional leagues like the NBA leaned into social media and community issues the NFL under the direction of Rodger Goodell only looked at profits. They actively campaigned to silence doctors as they show new evidence outlining the dangers of competitive football and produced a number of medical reports to counter these findings. The majority of the medical community rejected the NFL's findings as propaganda and as significant new testing has emerged to study the effects of collision sports like football. This has reduced the number of children are now player and watching the game.
Additionally, the NFL interjected itself into the highly contentious presidential race in 2016 caving to Mr. Trumps demands to punish a player for kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness to the injustices of the criminal system towards the African American community after a number of controversial deaths of black citizens in police custody. The NFL elected to limit the speech of its players which caused conflict in the league and with the American people for years. The NFL never official punished players for kneeling, but several key figures in the movement did not have their contracts renewed and in 2019 Kaepernick and others settled a lawsuit with the NFL for their actions.
Concerns About Safety
Dr. Omalu, then a junior pathologist at the Allegheny County medical examiner's office in Pittsburgh, began an autopsy on a Saturday morning in September 2002. The patient on the table was Mike Webster, a former center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Under the microscope, Webster's brain was marked by abnormal, tangled accumulations of a protein called tau that had damaged large numbers of brain cells. Tau is associated with various forms of dementia, "but these abnormalities were not something I thought I should be seeing in a 50-year-old man," Dr. Omalu says. Academic colleagues in neurology and neuropathology at the University of Pittsburgh agreed that the tau pattern was highly unusual and eventually co-authored a peer-reviewed journal article about the case with Dr. Omalu.
Initially, the NFL dismissed and even attacked the findings, along with subsequent reports from Dr. Omalu and his colleagues of other dead former NFL players who were found to have CTE. "A letter from members of the NFL committee on minor head injury demanded that we retract our findings," says co-author Steven T. DeKosky, MD, FAAN, now Aerts-Cosper Professor of Alzheimer's Research and deputy director of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The researchers stood their ground.
"That landmark paper opened the door to a discussion about brain injury that needed to be had," says Tad Seifert, MD, director of the Norton Healthcare Sports Neurology Program in Louisville, KY, and head of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Headache Task Force. "Many considered CTE to be limited to the world of boxing. That was far from the truth."
Since then, CTE has been established to be a progressive, degenerative brain disease associated with head trauma. It's not limited to football or boxing. The condition has been found in athletes who played soccer, ice hockey, rugby, mixed martial arts, and even BMX bike riding.
A key focus has been removing players from the field immediately after a concussion to reduce second concussion risks, which are amplified in an already-injured brain. "In the past, the protocol was to ask, 'Are you okay? What's your name? How do you feel?'" Dr. Starling says. "But if they're concussed, they're confused. They'll say, 'I'm fine,' not because they're trying to lie or don't want to reveal symptoms, but because it's the easiest thing to say."
More objective protocols not only allow for better evaluations, they also help to address the fact that some players may try to minimize any symptoms or lie about them. "No kid wants to come out of the game when he's earned a place on the field," Dr. DeKosky says. Sideline protocols now rely on recording neurologic measures before an athletic season begins, providing a baseline for later injury assessment.
Perhaps the most meaningful change has been one of attitude. "The way a concussion was described in the past was, 'You got dinged,' or, 'You got your bell rung,'" Dr. DeKosky says. "Now, coaches say a player has to come out. That's a huge difference. We accept broken bones or wrecked knees without much of a squawk. But the brain is now seen as different." (https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/when-bennet-omalu-md-identified-a-degenerative-brain-disease-in/ )
Limiting Player Voices
By 2016, America was reeling from the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, among other black Americans killed by police.
Many of their deaths were captured on video and broadcast on social media, igniting a mass movement to condemn police violence.
NFL players weren't typically on the field for "The Star-Spangled Banner" until 2009. Between 2011 and 2014, the US Department of Defence gave the NFL millions of dollars to promote patriotic displays, including on-field flag ceremonies and tributes to veterans. Soon on-field anthem ceremonies became expected pregame rituals.
Kaepernick first protested at the start of the 2016 season on 26 August, but his quiet demonstrations were not immediately noticed. At that point, he simply sat on benches.
On 1 September, he transitioned to taking a knee in protest instead, following advice from Retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, who suggested kneeling during the ceremony would be more respectful towards veterans.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” Kaepernick said in a press conference after first sitting out during the anthem. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Mr Trump has frequently criticised kneeling during the anthem by framing Kaepernick's protest as disrespect for US troops without addressing the reasons for the protest in the first place.
In 2016, Kaepernick responded by saying: "He always says make America great again. Well, America has never been great for people of colour. That's something that needs to be addressed. Let's make America great for the first time."
Mr Trump became a catalyst for the protest in September when he said during a campaign rally in Alabama that he wished that NFL players would be fired for kneeling during the national anthem.
In 2018, NFL owners unanimously approved a national anthem policy requiring players to stand if they are on the field during the performance of the song.
But its status is unclear, and it hasn't been enforced over the last two seasons.
Under the rule, players have the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they prefer. If a player or other employee of a team kneels or sits during the anthem, the teams themselves are fined. The teams then have the option to fine the individual players or personnel for the infraction. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/taking-a-knee-national-anthem-nfl-trump-why-meaning-origins-racism-us-colin-kaepernick-a8521741.html )
Major League Baseball
The last 10 years, baseball brought us the end of the Cubs' 108-year World Series drought, the greatness of Mike Trout, a Giants mini-dynasty, the rise of tanking, and more great young players than I care to list. Baseball is overloaded with talent right now. The game has never been played at a higher level than it was during the 2010s.
Baseball, at least at the MLB level, changed quite a bit over the last 10 years. It's the same basic game, but it is played a little differently and may look a little different as well. That's to be expected. Everything in life evolves over a 10-year period. Baseball is no different. (https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/the-five-trends-including-strikeouts-and-shifts-that-defined-mlb-in-the-2010s/ )
Slow Pace Hurts the Sport
Millennials often complain that baseball is too leisurely, too slow-paced, too -- let's just cut to the chase -- boring. There's too much down time, they maintain, and too many stretches where too little is happening.
Those are, for the most part, valid complaints. At a time when football threatens to suck up all the oxygen (and money) in the room, and younger fans flock to basketball and soccer, baseball runs the risk of lurching toward irrelevancy with fans under 40. If that pattern continues, the game is in real danger. As older fans die off, baseball's fan base will shrink considerably, to the point where it risks becoming a niche sport.
Baseball has made attempts to address the pace of game before, of course. Managers were asked to be quicker with pitching changes. Hitters were asked to be ready for the start of innings. But like baseball's one-year obsession with the balk, enforcement was temporary, and eventually, lax. Not anymore. The changes made last year -- thanks to shorter walk-up music, a directive to remain in the batter's box, etc. -- began to have real effects, with the average game time dipping under the three-hour mark to just longer than 2:56.
Credit here should go to Rob Manfred, who in his first year as commissioner, proved himself to be a stronger advocate for pace-of-game initiatives. Manfred is more aggressive than his predecessor, Bud Selig, who was known to be deliberative -- sometimes to a fault -- and wary of upsetting the game's long-held traditions. By all accounts, Manfred is said to be more dedicated to growing the game with younger fans, as befits someone nearly a generation younger than the man who held the office before him. (https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/boston-red-sox/more-mlb-moves-shorten-games-another-step-forward )