The is NBAAs a mass and cultural phenomenon in general, it is what can justly be described as ‘internet hurts’. From stars like Kevin Durant who happily and regularly pounce on detractors from their own Twitter accounts, to media personalities like Josiah Johnson who have made their entire careers out of real-time league memeing, to the casual fan who constantly updates their feeds during playoff games: it seems, In many ways, the core of the NBA is in the internet ether as much as it is on hardwood.
The community that has formed around the online NBA has become perhaps its greatest current asset, keeping fans engaged and keeping the league in the news even in its off-season slump. In 2021, the “NBA” Popular search was #1 On Google in the United States, and its official Instagram account has more followers All other major professional sports leagues in the nation as a whole. Of course, there is strength in numbers. But as the uncle of a famous mutated spider-human who once cleverly observed, great power comes with great responsibility. And, as it’s been demonstrated over the past week, the power of the growing human mind on the Internet can be a force for good, and a force for just the opposite.
The full range of good, bad, and very ugly things of the powerful NBA community have been shown online over the past seven days. On one end of the spectrum has been the volatile and widely hated case of Robert Sarver, the controlling owner of the Phoenix Suns. After confirming an independent investigation ESPN’s Baxter Holmes Report That Sarver, and his sexual and racist comments, were on top of a toxic work environment, the National Basketball Association issued a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine that was widely considered shockingly weak. After the ensuing online outrage from both fans and influencers such as LeBron James and Chris Paul, PayPal She said she won’t sponsor the team anymore If the owner server remains. Within days, the real estate mogul announced that he was Selling his controlling stake in Suns And WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury doesn’t like to overstate the assumption that had it not been for the league’s strong online presence and fan base, the public pressure might not have gotten hot enough to force a hand. The potentially benevolent power of a massive online community was manifested in the downfall of Sarfer.
On the other end of the spectrum, a few days later, every downside to a platform has been brought to light as millions of people gather behind anonymous avatars and respond to the spread of real-time information in the very chaotic avalanche of a story. Boston Celtics coach Aime Odoka suspendedAnd what followed immediately on Twitter. It started mysteriously and incredibly exhilarating tweet Wednesday night by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, which contains little information besides that Udoka was facing an as-yet-unspecified suspension for an as-yet-unidentified breach of team policy (and noteworthy, a strange infographic showing a similarity to a smiling Wojnarowski and a Twitter handle). This predictably created chaos in the world of Twittersphere, with fans and reporters alike confused and trying to analyze the little information that had been revealed. Two hours later, news rival Shams Al-Sharaniah, Athletic player chirp Sources were saying the violation in question was an “improper consensual relationship” with a Celtics employee. Shortly thereafter, confirmation came that Odoka’s suspension would be a full year.
Initially, NBA Twitter did its best by explaining the nature of the breach. Infidelity jokes were flying in, as people started getting news of the story and gathered on the app for mockery and meme. But soon the tone of high school roasting turned light to dark. Fans began trying to spread their own fake news to explore who the employee involved was, in the process, rounding up any of all publicly listed Celtics crew members, posting names, shapes and even guessing which employee was the most likely culprit in appearance. There was also anger and confusion about the length of the commentary (although there may have been more to the story than just a desk-to-be affair in nature, and many holes remain in the initial report). The Celtics were silently silent while rumors swirled about their staff, no explanation or context was given by the first reporters or anyone else, and by midnight on the West Coast the loins, guesswork, and general chaos had completely taken over a life of their own. It was unequivocally ugly, and completely avoidable.
It’s probably not news to anyone reading this that a career path in the sport is far from easy for women, even when they’re not unfairly exposed to rumors of cheating on a head coach. And it’s no surprise to say that the fast-paced “scoop” culture, and the importance placed on being the first, may have gotten a little out of hand. But it’s worth repeating that the internet, as much as some like to argue otherwise, is a reality of life. These anonymous avatars (usually) represent real people. The stories and rumors circulating within its borders affect real life, real careers, and real emotional well-being. There isn’t a single party or culpable parties about the lives that have been affected (perhaps irrevocably) over the past few days, but rather a light that sheds light on the many ways in which there is room for improvement in the way we distribute, share and consume information.
Perhaps there should be a delineation, for starters, of the way sensitive and actively developed stories like this are covered, as opposed to more hard information like where someone is being traded or how long a player is expected to be sidelined by injury: even Had one, by doing so, lost being the king of the internet that day. Perhaps the Celtics could have been more proactive in protecting their employees rather than keeping the radio silent until Friday morning’s press conference. And for all of the users, anonymous and otherwise, who use the double-edged sword that represents unlimited access to both consuming and sharing information and ideas, it is perhaps worth a reminder that while the thrill of sharing and the overwhelming interest in dopamine wanes, it may not be the effect of a keyboard click.
All of us, from the news desk to the front office to the blue-light glow of an iPhone in bed anywhere in the USA, should know better. And with a week showing what the highs and lows of a strong online community could mean for real-life effects now in the back view, the task at hand is to learn from it all, and do better.