Hype, what is it? Google defines it as “extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion.” We can easily see hype throughout the sports industry. Athletes, coaches, teams and events are all promoted constantly by sports companies to increase views while fans hype up players, coaches etc. for numerous reasons. Hype by itself is not the problem, rather that when it comes to sports, “hype” often turns into exaggeration or overhype. This can be catastrophic to any sensibility in sports. What should have been a sports truth is now confused and deranged from what is or was.
So how does over-emphasis affect the athletes, coaches, teams and events its will is imposed upon? The first and most important thing to realize is that when anything in sports is hyped, it almost always distorts the truth. This is not the nature of hype itself, it is just when applied to sports, it becomes fiction. That’s where the problems begin. Hype itself is just an intensive promotion of something and there are commodities in sports that should be overstated. It is when sports fans and organizations overemphasize something out of excitement or wanting more views or reads that it recreates reality.
This can be a particular problem for newcomers to sports. When they get caught up in the exaggeration of someone or something because they don’t know any better they become much more confused and annoyed when (whatever it is) doesn’t live up to the overhype.
This also affects sports fans en mass. Public opinion can change from week to week based on different players and teams being hyped differently as a result of one good or bad performance.
In addition, events can be distorted by this concept. Let’s take Super Bowl 53 for example. It was said that it was going to be one of the greatest offensive showdowns there ever was. With superstars like Tom Brady and Todd Gurley facing off and storylines such as old school vs. new school, along with two brilliant coaching minds going at it. Turns out that’s all it was, a story. The supposedly incredible, exciting and offense-based battle turned into a sloppy, boring, defensive battle. The only thing that kept much of anyone watching was that it was the Super Bowl, and for many they just stopped watching anyway.
Look what overhyping did to the situation, it warped the reality of the event. Yes both teams had great offenses but it was a mistake to think that the brilliant coaches wouldn’t figure out each others’ strategies on offense. And don’t forget the great defensive players. Both teams had greats, such as Aaron Danold and Stephon Gilmore. The basic idea to take away from this example is that is wasn’t unrealistic to think the offenses would perform, they had all season. It was the underestimation of the defenses and the overhyping of the offenses to be unstoppable that was the issue. As if defensive players wouldn’t show up the same as offensive players. That pass rush, those DB’s. It still wouldn’t have been quite what we expected, it certainly would have been much less of a surprise had everything been analyzed though.
Many people think overhype can only be excessively praising something when the real fact is, hype goes both ways, especially in sports. Now let’s look at a modern example in sports of two-way overhype, Dak Prescott. Many people believe him to be nothing better than a college football level qaurterback; others claim he is the next big thing. There are valid supporting factors for both arguments. Some games Dak will do well, others horrible. The main argument of the latter is that Dak can’t beat teams above .500. Kirk Cousins has a similar problem. You know what it means to be able to beat bad teams and not good teams. It doesn’t make you bad, it makes you average.
Sports fans and companies do the same thing many nations do to their people. Bump out the middle class. You are either perceived as rich or poor, have or have not, talented or garbage. When the truth of the matter is that there is such a thing as being average or just “okay” in sports. Another reason fans and sports stations do this is very simply, being average isn’t entertaining. People want to laugh at you if you’re atrocious or be amazed by you if you are great. Being average, well you can’t laugh at them, but you are never truly amazed by them either. Over rating and under rating adds constant back and forth controversy on athletes like these as every time they do good or bad the other side of the argument is shouting, “see!”
Just like overhype sours a good movie overhype can sour good sports. However, it can be the very lifeline of athletics. Despite the truth of sports reality being destroyed by overhype, it is actually what helps the sports industry make so much money and therefore, stay alive. Think about it, overhype helps people get excited to watch more games, players and coaches. No one wants to see average. They want to see the extremes. What happens when there are no extremes? People feel the need to overstate or understate it and in the process, turn it into something it’s not. This keeps the life blood of many aspects of sports viewing alive. I would say there is a solution to all of this. Simply stop overhyping through arguments and big statements and talk intellectually about it all. The transition would be harder for some and easier for others.
The larger question we should be asking before we start looking for a “solution” is this: Should overhype be seen as a problem? To be honest, I really don’t have a right or wrong answer to this question. On the one hand you are destroying reality, while on the other hand it feeds into the spirit of sports viewing and adds to the drama. Make your own judgments. I am simply making an observation.