I was listening earlier this week to the latest Bill Simmons – Chuck Klosterman podcast(s), where the hosts tackled a variety of topics. One of those topics caught my ear, however, and it had to do with the nature of celebrity and the current state of the sport of basketball, which starts at about the 8 minute mark of Part 2 of the 7/18 podcast.
Anyone who’s listened to (or read) Simmons regularly knows he’s only interested in college basketball in relation to what kind of talent is bubbling through the pipes to feed his precious NBA. Meanwhile, Klosterman is very much a college sports fan, both basketball and football.
What made this discussion worth listening to was Klosterman saying that the NBA game has exceeded the college game in terms of the number of people who care about it, something that he didn’t think was possible when he first started watching basketball in the late 1970s. His summation of the reason why was quite interesting:
In every tier of society, entertainment, sports, politics, everything. There’s a greater emphasis on celebrity. And you can’t be a collegiate celebrity the way you can be a professional celebrity. You know, you can’t be a collegiate star the way you can be an NBA star, because an NBA star can mean things that have nothing to do with basketball. And that’s what drives everything now. Everything is driven by people’s sense of relationship with what they are watching. “Do I feel like I know this person? Do I know what this person is like outside of what I am watching?”.
This notion of “celebrity” in society is a near-constant these days, and much of it has to do with the interconnected nature of our culture. Whereas before, due to the distances between information sources and the time it took for news to travel, it was truly difficulty and unique for a person or group to achieve nationwide celebrity status. Now, culture is constantly focusing on celebrities, and the ability to follow multiple individuals in the pop culture sphere is there for anyone with a Twitter account. Read More