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 can’t live without my desktop computer because it can replace most of the other devices (media streaming, music playing, getting directions, staying in contact with friends, gaming...).”—Female, 25, SC

The NBA has teamed up with Budweiser to give fans their first virtual reality experience. At their playoff game last week, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave out cardboard VR headsets that also doubled as beer carriers. Attendees could access experiences like player intros, an inside look at the locker room, and a courtside view of the national anthem. The NBA says they are “always looking for new ways to connect with…fans by leveraging emerging technologies that deliver unique experiences,” and plans to continue to launch more videos throughout the playoffs. The NBA is latest of many brands that have jumped into using VR. (Adweek

A six-year-old fan convention has gotten “too big to ignore.” Described as “the Millennial and postMillennial equivalent” of Comic-Con, VidCon connects fans with their favorite video creators and counts YouTube as a top sponsor. Attendance for the event is poised to grow to 30,000 this year from 21,000 last year, when attendees were mostly teens and females. Not missing the “chance for a direct conversation with a very important, hard-to-reach audience,” the movie industry plans to make an appearance “in a major way for the first time.” Lionsgate plans to bring the star of upcoming thriller Nerve, and Warner Bros. will be doing an “elaborate stunt” to promoteFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (The New York Times

Second screen behavior is only becoming more prevalent. Internet users are increasingly turning to additional devices while watching TV programming and commercials, leading “simultaneous usage” to grow to 85% this year from 80% in 2015. According to eMarketer, that’s 182.9 million Americans who are browsing the internet while watching TV at least once a month. Device ownership is also on the rise: smartphone ownership is expected to increase by 11% over the next few years, and tablet ownership by 4%. If the trend continues, more than nine out of ten internet users will be multi-tasking with their devices by 2018. (MediaPost

Older generations may have thing or two to teach Millennials about technology. A new study on adults in the U.K. and U.S. found that 18-34-year-olds tend to be more relaxed when it comes to online security, leading to compromised accounts. When asked if they ever used “easily cracked” passwords like birthdays, the word “password,” and “1234,” the majority of 51-69-year-olds said no, while two-thirds of Millennials who said yes. Not surprisingly, 35% of Millennials report one of their accounts was hacked over the past 12 months. (Quartz

We’ve reached peak Boomerang Generation: There are more Millennials living with their parents than significant others, roommates, or on their own, according to Pew Research data. In 2014, for the “first time in modern history,” about one-third of Millennials reported that they were living at their parents’ home. Although the recession limited the generation financially, the Washington Post says the trend has been “decades in the making, a result of deep-rooted societal transformations in education, work and family building.” Instead of marrying, moving out, and starting families, young adults are instead focusing on career paths, gaining more education, and saving up to move out on their own without the support of a significant other. (Washington Post

Quote of the Day: “I want to travel to Washington, because I love the Twilight series and I'd love to see the place it's based on.”

—Female, 23, CA

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