The Serious Faux Pas: Athletes

In today’s segment of our Serious Faux Pas series, we’re looking at the modern misstep of athletes who take themselves too seriously and how the age of the hyped up self-aggrandizing sports icon has ended.
 

Growing up, Xers (and older Millennials) had a transcendent sports icon to look up to: the great and powerful Michael Jordan. Jordan gave rise to the idea of the icon athlete as an endorser, and even recently was called “the endorsement king of all ages” by Forbes. Almost all of his endorsements celebrated his prowess as an athlete. At the height of his stardom, kids across America were inundated with the call to “be like Mike” thanks to his Gatorade commercials. He was someone to aspire to become, but always maintained a safe distance from his fans and teammates—an untouchable hero. ESPN has called him “the archetype of the hero athlete and the living embodiment of success.” Jordan took himself seriously, was not humble, and didn’t mind coming off as arrogant and self-aggrandizing. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, he infamously ran through a list of all the individuals who had not believed in him or held him back in some way by name to emphasize how much he had succeeded despite them. 

But a serious shift has occurred since the age of Jordan and the athlete hero-on-a-pedestal. Millennials aren’t looking for hero athletes, but athletes who can joke, banter, and create irreverent material— even at their own expense. Sports stars today who commit the Serious Faux Pas risk having their fan bases turn on them. That lesson was exemplified in the aftermath of the publicity circus surrounding LeBron James' decision to join the Miami Heat. After he and his marketing team created a television special to announce "The Decision," fans vilified him, and it has taken years to rebuild his…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “When I hear the phrase ‘The American Dream' I think…A loaded term that is meaningless these days. At this point, I'd be happy if I can manage to live a mostly comfortable, independent life. Is that The American Dream? I don't know.” –Male, 25, PA

When it comes to kids using tablets and smartphones, most of the attention is given to the dangers of it all: what will it do to their attention spans, their minds, or their health? But there are potential positives to their mobile use as well. One (Millennial) mom’s reasons for continuing to give her kids handheld devices include the importance of encouraging their technology and problem solving skills, expectations that they will know how to use them in school, and a hope that her girls will be involved in tech in their futures. (Hip Mombrarian)

This might be the year that vending machines became a full blown marketing trend, and Nike has put their own athletic spin on the tactic. Their recent “secret” vending machine in NYC, the Nike+ FuelBox, dispensed products like hats, shirts, and socks that visitors could only pay for with daily points from their Nike+ FuelBands, encouraging exercise in exchange for goods. (Engadget)

We’ve seen FoMo, the rise and fall of YOLO, and now social media has given us MoMo, the “Mystery of Missing Out.” Unlike FoMo, Fear of Missing Out when you see your friends posting a ton of fun pictures on social media, MoMo is the anxiety that results when friends stop posting. In the words of one Millennial, “’what can be so good that they aren't posting?’” It might seem silly to some, but for a generation used to being connected with friends nearly all the time, the feeling of exclusion that results from being left out and unaware of what’s happening is real. (Jezebel)

The value of higher education is already being questioned by Millennials, and evidence is continuing to mount that college systems and hierarchies need to be rethought. One former Yale professor is making headlines by telling parents not to send their kids to Ivy League schools, and that those who attend are not the “winners in the race we have made of childhood” but that instead elite education produces “anxious, timid, and lost” young people. (New Republic)

Oh, Barbie. She's had a rough year, and Mattel recently released an Entrepreneur Barbie in an attempt to tap into girl power marketing, and revive flagging sales. But is the reality that Barbie is just too perfect for today’s kids? The brand’s offbeat, weirdo Monster High dolls do far better than pristine, “clean cut” blond icon. Tapping into new trends in toy tech and giving Barbie a renewed sense of “imaginative play” might help, but at the same time post-Millennials, like the generation before them, could be turned off by anything that doesn’t show some flaws. (The StarPhoenix)

Quote of the Day: “When I hear the phrase ‘The American Dream’ I think of 1950s cliches, the economic downturn of 2008, and how college debt has pretty much made it impossible.” –Female, 17, RI

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