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: "I want to be able to have, and provide for, a family in the next 3-4 years.” –Male, 20, NC

The gambling industry is (still) trying to figure out Millennials. While young travellers do seem to like Vegas, they’re not interested in playing slots, and more of their money and attention is going to technically non-gambling activities like fantasy sports. Some casinos are trying out skill-based machines that feel more like video games. According to the CEO of the Global Gaming Association “It's going to be a lot about throwing things up on the wall and seeing what sticks." (CNBC)

Digital natives have naturally integrated tech into their relationships, and teens are using texting and online flirting as a way of “dipping a toe in the ocean of romantic possibility.” But at the same time, in-person interactions remain important: 50% have flirted by friending someone on social media, while 55% have flirted by talking to their romantic interest in person. (The Atlantic)

Evidence that food is the new status symbol continues to mount. New research from Good Food magazine found that 16-24-year-olds in the UK spend more on food than any other age group, with much of that splurging spent on takeout. These young consumers are also spending more on brunch and other restaurant visits than older diners. (Vice Munchies)

Television has traditionally been relatively isolating, especially as an influx of content has made it less likely that everyone is watching the same show at the same time and time shifting has threatened the water cooler moment. But social media is making TV a communal experience again, as actors, writers, and the audience react to episodes in real time together. Social media activity is also an indication of a show’s popularity: Twitter and Nielsen have found that there is a connection between tweet volume and the size of the viewing audience. (NYTimes)

Exercise might seriously improve the mental health of bullied teens. A study from the University of Vermont found a 23% decrease in suicidal thoughts and attempts among bullied students who exercised four or more days a week. While the study doesn’t necessarily prove that exercise reduces sadness and suicidal tendencies, it is “an important first step” in connecting the two. (Common Health)

Quote of the Day: “I don't have kids, so my financial goal is to save the money I need to take the trips I want to take.” –Female, 25, FL

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