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: “This holiday season, I’m buying myself a GoPro.” –Male, 28, MI

Teens may not be able to remember a time before the internet—but that doesn’t necessarily make them more internet-savvy than older users. Research in the UK found that only 31% of 12-15-year-olds and 16% of 8-11-year-olds could tell the difference between Google ads and Google search results, even when ads were labeled. The findings indicate that young consumers still need to “develop the knowhow they need to navigate the online world.” (The Verge)

Last week, Pew survey results showing that 40% of Millennials are “against free speech” that is offensive to minority groups were widely reported—but a closer look might prove those conclusions were a “false alarm.” Though there is no data to directly compare the question to, there are “numerous examples” that show that multiple generations have held similar views for decades. (NYMag)

Ypulse’s exclusive holiday shopping survey found 61% agree with the statement “I can't stand crowds and don’t shop in-store on Black Friday.” Their decision to shop from home is shifting the consumer holiday: the National Retail Federation found that more people shopped online than in stores during Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend. Major chains are adjusting by moving many of their big deals online as well. (WSJ)

Thought we know 35% of Millennial voters would choose Bernie Sanders if the election was tomorrow, there is still a long time before election day, and a new app is ready to educate about the candidates, the Millennial way. Voter uses the Tinder “swipe left/swipe right” format to help users to find the candidates and parties that share their views. A series of questions sort users into political pools, and give them a breakdown of the issues they agree and disagree on, as well as contacts and donation links. (PSFK)

Brands have been leaning into nostalgia and bringing back Millennials’ childhood favorites all year—and it isn’t close to over. Rumors are flying that the wonderfully disgusting Ghostbusters themed Hi-C Ecto Cooler is coming back for the release of the film’s reboot in 2016. Neon orange Ecto Cooler was originally put on the shelves in 1987, featured the beloved Slimer, and was so popular it outlasted the Ghostbusters cartoon. (AVClub)

Quote of the Day: “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without some family drama.” –Male, 23, MA

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