I love American sports. Right now we are in the golden part of the year when the baseball and football seasons overlap (as opposed to that awful time when the basketball, ice hockey and football overlap). The Americans really do sport very well and there are things we can take from them and not just in regard to sport. They can teach us things about life.
Lesson 1: Social media can be a bad thing
So many American athletes have used social media to build themselves a brand; Shaq and Lance Armstrong being the obvious ones. But so many athletes are using Twitter and Facebook and streaming video sites, like UStream, that the various leagues and officials have banned tweeting during matches.
The NFL said … it will allow players to use social media networks this season, but not during games. Players, coaches and football operations personnel can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media up to 90 minutes before kickoff, and after the game following traditional media interviews.
During games, no updates will be permitted by the individual himself __or anyone representing him__ on his personal Twitter, Facebook or any other social media account, the league said.
The use of social media by NFL game officials and officiating department personnel will be prohibited at all times. The league, which has always barred play-by-play descriptions of games in progress, also extended that ban to social media platforms.
So in this sense the league is not looking at blocking the service to players but more that they want to respect the more traditional forms of media who don't want to be "scooped" by over-enthusiastic players.
Of course players can also show us the downside of our new "fuck privacy" lifestyles. Adam "Pacman" Jones (don't let the nickname fool you, he's a jerk, see #3 below) was an unemployed footballer, due to an unfair system and his predilection for illegal activities, like shooting people in a strip club. So when he was signed by the Winnepeg Blue Bombers (a Canadian Football League team) he instantly went onto UStream to tell all of his fans about how "excited" he was. Here's the run down of Jones' broadcast:
Jones didn't even know the name of the league in which he thought he'd be playing. He disparaged that league by equating playing there to "pain," and indicated a desire to get back to the NFL as soon as possible (which might be true, but it still disrespectful to the Canadian league, and something you probably don't want to mention out loud).
And then, just for good measure, he bragged about his money and made everyone wonder, [after showing off his fiancé's engagement ring] "Who in the world would agree to marry Pacman Jones?"
"Pacman" is no longer employed by the Blue Bombers.
Other athletes have done equally stupid things (photos of new tattoos with bags of drugs in the background for example). But then there are also the perils of friends with cameras at parties as Michael Phelps can attest.
Lesson 2: Everything that seems so big is yet still so small.
No matter how big everything gets in America you still can't fit it all in. For example the brand new Cowboys Stadium is actually a parable for America's Eco-calypse (not to be confused with the Econocalypse). Despite the seemingly limitless resources of the Dallas Cowboys organisation (listed as the richest in America by Forbes) they couldn't fit everything into the finite constraints of the new stadium.
They have the world's largest LCD screen, but it hangs too low and kicks hit it. They have room for 100,000 fans, but of those 35,000 can't see the game (or the really quite large TV) because they'll be in the standing room only "party zone".
Clearly the entire existence of Cowboy's Stadium is to teach Americans about how to use their resources better. Even the team's name is a lesson in America's horrible colonial past (especially when the Redskins come to visit every year).
Lesson 3: All sportspeople are jerks. Every goddamn one of them!
No matter how many times they are voted to the All-Star squad. No matter how many charities they have. No matter how cool they are in interviews. No matter how pretty they look. Every fucking one of them is an asshat of the highest order.
They cheat. They hurt animals. They drive drunk. They intentionally injure other players. They lie. They use performance enhancers. They beat their partners. They use performance enhancers and beat their partners.
So just remember that next time you're fawning over the pretty boys and girls, they will always come back to hurt you.