(This is my first post for HIDIA, and I’m very excited to be a part of this collaboration. Hopefully I can help expand our horizons to beyond just basketball in the future as we take this project further.)
I awoke the other morning – hungover in the afternoon as expected after working the night of the 4th of July – and groggily flipped on my laptop as I downed a glass of water. I’m on Facebook for no more than ten minutes when suddenly my news feed starts blowing up.
“I can’t believe they let her off!”
“What a fucked up system, it was obvious she was guilty!”
“The jury may have said she was not guilty, but God will not be fooled when it comes time to judge!”
“Oh yeah,” I mumble to myself. “Wasn’t some woman on trial?” My indifference to hyped up media stories is a well-known trait amongst my friends. I abhor the paparazzi and what they have done to American entertainment. I detest the way we uphold celebrities, putting them on some golden pedestal, wherein every move they make can be scrutinized, analyzed, judged, and then re-analyzed. Only in America can you get a reality show because your mom was once a Vice-Presidential candidate and you got knocked up in a tent by your teenage boyfriend, or because your father was once the attorney of a former football superstar (hey, foreshadowing).
But there was something about these Facebook comments that exploded onto my grimy laptop screen. Such intensity, such disgust, such seemingly omniscient judgment. For a woman they don’t even know! Some no-name piece of white trash (as my friend so eloquently put it) who happens to be hot, and to have potentially killed her baby daughter (hey, I’m not passing judgment, I already told you I didn’t watch the trial). “Why do you all care so much?” I thought to myself. This woman, guilty or not, has had her private life thrown in front of the spotlight, like some endangered creature new to the local zoo, with all manner of people pointing at her and whispering opinions about her guilt. Where do you people come off?
As my seething, hypocritical temperament cooled, I remembered how apt this was to stick with my previous plans and finally complete my first entry for HIDIA: a look at how we as fans have bought into this hyper-sensationalized, media-driven culture surrounding the world of sports
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A little over 17 years ago, Arnold Palmer was playing his last round in the PGA, the New York Knicks were battling to win their first championship since the 70s, the New York Rangers were already receiving the infamous ticker tape parade through Broadway, and the World Cup was being kicked off in Chicago (which no one was really watching anyway).
And a white Bronco was driving down Interstate 405, trailed by a cadre of police vehicles and media helicopters, about to change the face of sports personalities forever.