2023

Sports in 2023: Nothing But A Hot Take Money Grab

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As this year 2023 has unfolded it’s been beyond my grasp to figure out what’s going on in society that feels like fundamental changes that are unsettling. Then this week I heard the news that helped crystallize the cause of all this mental and abdominal churning.

Sports Illustrated named Coach Prime Sports Person of the Year for 2023. As a coach this year he won four games and lost eight. By any objective measure, he was far from a champion. He didn’t excel in the field of competition.

Compare that to Nikola Jokic, who broke all sorts of NBA records, won his first NBA title, and was going away the best player in the world. But his historically stellar accomplishments didn’t make him the sportsperson of the year. Instead, a guy who choked in competition lost constantly, showed he liked to show off gold chains, embraced ostentatiousness, money, fame, and selfishness, and got honored.

The humble superstar didn’t. What are we doing here? What is going on? What do we think is important anymore?

We care about clicks, followers, and money more than bestowing awards on people who should get them. Sports Illustrated showed blatantly they want people to click on their article about Coach Prime because they know choosing him will generate more money for Sports Illustrated. Money-making is more important than credibility or solid judgment.

We are in a click-bait, attention-grabbing economy now where the truth and integrity don’t count. What matters is getting attention so you become more popular, get more people to watch you, and click on your content so you become more attractive to advertisers and increase your chances of making more money.

I am not proud to admit I am guilty of this. I write headlines to grab attention and lure people into reading my stuff. I write things to get reactions. I’m caught up in this game.

I feel sheepish about it yet don’t want to stop. Well, I can but I don’t want to. I like the attention. I like to be noticed. I like the egotistical adrenaline hits when people respond to what I create. It’s addictive. Plus I like creating.

It seems to be this click-bait world now swallowing us up that throws more information into question. What can we read and rely on to make rational decisions?

There is so much going on – that encapsulates 2023 captured in six words. The tech industry powered by AI is going to uproot companies, industries, and people from one side of the world to the other. What will that do to the global economy? Who will be able to gain the skills to be of use in society, and who will fall off the grid? Who will benefit financially from this technological thunderbolt?

Money is being prioritized; loyalty and interpersonal kindness dropped in importance. In sports, the Saudi Arabian golf tour imbroglio showed some guys will take millions of dollars from people known to murder people. I don’t know how much more disturbing anything can be. Money grabbed, principles compromised, not good.

ESPN continues to lurch for eyeballs as podcasters pull those eyeballs to their programs. College football is in complete disarray, a money machine feeding greediness, corrupting kids and coaches.

NFL football games are hard to sit and watch because of all the stoppages of play to endure tedious replays 20 times, gambling commercials, and just not a lot of people who seem honorable and worth spending time following.

“Hot takes” are the hot thing. Say something controversial, especially something harshly insulting about another person, and people will Retweet that, hundreds of people will comment, a podcaster will pick up on what you said, get you to be a guest on the podcast, boost your brand, and help you make more money.

What about any of this is dignified and honorable? Is this path in any way stoppable? If truth is suspect now, where will it be a year or two from now? How can we make decisions when we don’t know what’s real?

Are there any admirable coaches anymore? Far too many seem to be selling out for themselves more than their players and instinctually we know that’s not how things should be. Coaches are supposed to teach young people how to practice and compete, not abandon them for more money for themselves. I guess what I’m saying is the way the sports world is now is starting to disgust and disappoint me and I don’t know how much longer I can follow any of this. It seems the most interesting sport right now is women’s college basketball because of the talents of Caitlin Clark, but that, too, is tainted by her cockiness and ugly interpersonal tensions with LSU’s Angel Reese. See, all sports are getting polluted by nastiness, selfishness, and money. All of them.

I don’t know where this all goes. I don’t know if I am part of the problem though I am concerned, if I’m being honest, that I’m not helping fix it.

All for attention, ego-stroking, personal enrichment.

Too much of it. Too much, I say.

Coach Prime should not be Sportsperson of the Year. It’s flat-out wrong in so many ways. I could name 100 more worthy people, including all the college football coaches with much better records than 4 and 8.

Does winning matter anymore? Apparently not. Is money all that anyone cares about? And grabbing attention, posting on TikTok, ripping someone on Twitter, being arrogant, and exalting material possessions?

This is where we are in 2024. It’s not a great place and should be concerning all of us.

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