20 Totally Played out Trends in Sports
Professional athletes occupy a unique place in society and pop culture.
On one hand, the money and fame brings a level of attention from fans and media comparable to movie stars, politicians and other celebrities. But on the other, their sphere of influence is primarily shaped by the sport, rather than who they are.
There are always exceptions: those athletes who transcend the game and become something bigger than the stats or championships. But for most, their legacy is built on performance. So, there is an awkward dynamic that arises when an athlete's life and aspirations outside the sport converge with pop culture in a hyper-information world.
The result is that things get kind of weird when we learn about the habits, tastes, business decisions and lifestyles of pro athletes. Maybe it's because we see them do such amazing things on the field, court, in the rink, et al., and then are reminded that they're human, and they are no less immune to the strange trappings of pop culture than the average person.
This doesn't mean we can't spotlight some of the goofier, tacky or ill-informed trends that athletes seem to chase in bunches.
These are the 20 totally played out trends in sports.
20. The Lambeau Leap Not at Lambeau
I live in D.C., so I've been a firsthand witness to the Redskins' attempts over the last year to make the Lambeau Leap a thing—that happens at FedEx Field.
It always reminds me of one of Regina George's best lines in Mean Girls: "Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen. It's not going to happen!" That specific movie reference may not speak to my audience here, but it perfectly encapsulates my feelings on this issue.
I love Robert Griffin III and have even adopted the Skins as my second team, but the Lambeau Leap needs to cease happening outside of Lambeau Field.
For one thing, it's stolen material.
The people of the frozen tundra known as Green Bay don't have much going on besides the Packers, so let them have their thing. The "Landover Leap" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Plus, it really doesn't work when the stands in your end zone are filled with fans of the opposing team—right Jabar Gaffney?
19. Celebrating 'Gangnam Style'
If you're like me and are always late to the game on Internet sensations that take the world by storm, "Gangnam Style" is a rap video by the South Korean rapper Psy which hit YouTube in July 2012. The name refers to a wealthy neighborhood in South Korea where the wealthy, such as Psy, goes to party.
Within weeks Psy's flashy style and killer dance moves swept the globe. The video has over 500 million hits on YouTube, so it was only a matter of time until it trickled down into celebration dances. So far it's only infected the NFL, but that's only because the NBA season hasn't started.
Perhaps I'm just getting less tolerant of this kind of spectacle in my old age because I know it's only been a few weeks, but I'm already tired of this.
That's not to say I'm opposed to athletes celebrating—I'm not. I just think something like this is funny once or twice and then becomes increasingly grating.
18. Macho Body Bumps
The macho body bump is a super manly way for macho dudes to celebrate mutually beneficial accomplishments. It's also a great way for exceptionally heterosexual men to greet each other in a way that demonstrates their enthusiasm to see each other, without looking too excited to see each other.
It's just too bad that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan killed the macho body bump in 2011.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the video. There's no question that it's time to put this whole thing to bed and come up with some fresh macho material.
17. Massive Shoe Collections
Listen up boys!
Next time you start menacing your girlfriend, wife, sister or any woman in your life who comes home with a new pair of shoes, I want you to remember Heat superstar Dwyane Wade has a room in his mansion dedicated solely (get it?) to his kicks. And he tweets out pictures of new shoes on the regular so maybe he has two rooms dedicated to his shoes by now.
I'm not singling Wade out for ridicule or anything. He was just the first athlete I follow on Twitter that came to mind who isn't universally loathed by a large cross-section of the population.
It was through Twitter where I learned that this weird shoe fetish is actually a widespread obsession among athletes. I've seen Instagram photos of sneaks riding shotgun, sitting at the dinner table and displayed in elaborate showcases.
So when I read that retired NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp had to sell all 240 pairs of his rare Air Jordans at auction as part of his bankruptcy case in August 2012, I couldn't help but think I was looking into the very sad future of many of the athletes I currently follow on Twitter.
Someone needs to tell athletes that tennis shoes are not a good investment.
16. Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin seems like a very nice young man, but I was under the impression that the whole "Linsanity" thing was over.
Maybe it was over in March after the Knicks six-game losing streak landed most of the official merch in the clearance bin. Or maybe it didn't officially end until July when the Knicks finally met a free agent they didn't want to overpay for and let Lin sign with the Rockets.
Honestly, it doesn't matter when it officially ended. The point is that it's over. I thought this was something we all came to terms with as a nation months ago, but it seems there are a few people out there who didn't get the memo. ESPN certainly didn't get the memo, but beating a dead horse is just a matter of company policy in Bristol.
Apparently Jeremy Lin and GQ didn't get that memo either. I actually subscribe to GQ and was unpleasantly surprised to see Lin gracing the cover of the November 2012 issue in my mailbox. In the interview Lin reveals that he got a taste of fame, and he's not ready to let it go just yet.
Meaning it's time to brace for yet another unwanted sequel: Linsanity in the Lone Star State.
15. The Adderall Defense
I'm not sure what has happened in the last year, but it sure seems like every athlete and his mother is chowing down Adderall with their delicious Toaster Strudel every morning.
In the last year the number of NFL players suspended for (supposedly) taking Adderall has been climbing steadily.
There are two possible explanations for this:
1. Athletes are actually taking Adderall.
2. Athletes are lying about taking Adderall to explain away testing positive for steroids.
Considering this is a relatively new phenomenon while Adderall has been around for years, it seems unlikely that professional athletes are just now getting wind of this much publicized stimulant. What's more likely is they finally recognized a loophole and decided to exploit it.
In the event that a player tests positive, the NFL policy on steroids and other banned substances prohibits the league from disclosing the offending substance, which allows the player to make something up. And since Adderall sounds a lot better than steroids, it's become the go-to excuse for every positive test.
14. Throwback Jerseys
If video killed the radio star, then the Steelers 2012 throwback jerseys killed the throwback jerseys.
These throwbacks jerseys have been skirting the line of good taste for years, but the Steelers bumble bee uniforms finally pushed me over the edge.
That's really all I have to say on this issue. Moving on.
13. Making It Rain
I don't want to get all Jessie Spano on you here. I don't have any problem with strip clubs, the women who work in them or the men who help fund the dancers' law school dreams. In fact, hook me up with a few shots of tequila, and I will be the first one in line to hit the strip club.
But there is just something inherently distasteful about "making it rain." If word of someone's "making it rain" gets out, it almost always causes some sort of embarrassment (looking at you, Brett Anderson). Or, as in the case of Pacman Jones, ends up with someone getting shot after a nasty altercation regarding the etiquette of "making it rain."
When did shoving dollar bills in the g-string of a stripper stop being enough?
12. The Grizzly Adams Beard
I was actually into the whole Grizzly Adams beard thing for awhile. I fully supported Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson's conversion from frat boy with a faux hawk to spandex tuxedo wearing outlier with a formidable beard.
But now it's gone mainstream.
It used to be that an epic beard would make you stand out in a crowd. Now you stand out if you don't have an epic beard. Braylon Edwards, Brett Keisel, DeShawn Stevenson, Prince Fielder, Baron Davis, Mike Commodore, Ed Reed and, of course, James Harden are just a few of the athletes rocking Grizzly Adams beards as of late.
Obviously they are doing this to be different, but is it really different when everyone else is doing it?
I'm actually not a Tim Tebow "hater", despite what people seem to think.
I loved Tebow when he played at Florida, and I definitely think he has a chance to carve out a niche in the NFL. Whether or not that's as a quarterback is yet to be seen.
So me advocating to put Tebowing out of its misery has next to nothing to do with the man who inspired the trend.
Tebowing came on the heels of the planking fad, which had a shelf life of about three months. I thought planking was stupid, but I can withstand stupid things for approximately three months, so it all worked out.
Thinking it would come and go like planking, I was actually pretty amused by Tebowing in its infancy. But then it stretched to three months then six then nine and now it's been a full year, and this nonsense is still going on.
It hurts to let go of things you love, but you learn a lesson.
10. Giant Face Signs
I'm not sure if gigantic cardboard face signs were a "thing" before University of Alabama freshman Jack Blankenship showed up at a Knicks game in early 2012 with nothing more than a giant cardboard cutout of his own face and a dream.
Sure I've seen this nonsense on ESPN's College Game Day for years, but that's an alternate universe where Lee Corso is king. I never thought any of their insanity bubbled over into the real word, but apparently it does.
Blankenship made his rounds in New York, including an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and it was amusing enough for a couple of days.
But months later, all these giant cardboard face signs just look like a cheap knockoff. Get your own thing.
9. The Dougie
Wizards star John Wall introduced himself to D.C. with a spirited rendition of the Dougie at his first home game in November 2010. It was a pretty fun scene that created a lot of buzz for Wall, who milked his moment for all it was worth.
It spurred countless dance-offs and copycat performances, including one by the Lions third string quarterback Drew Stanton just a month later. And then in January, ABC's Nightline featured a four-minute feature on the cultural impact of the Dougie.
The cultural impact of the Dougie really should have ended right then and there, but we all know that's not how these things tend to play out.
Two years later and the Dougie simply refuses to die. Never underestimate the human tolerance for mind numbing repetition.
Grillz have been around for 30 years, believe it or not.
Hip hop artists and rappers have been donning these dentures of diamonds and gold since the early 80's. The popularity of these ridiculous accessories has ebbed and flowed over the years, but they haven't really been the "in" thing since Nelly's 2005 single "Grillz" faded into oblivion.
So why did American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte blatantly ignore the specific instructions of the International Olympic Committee who instructed him not to embarrass himself, his country or the Olympics in general, by wearing a ghastly custom made American flag grill? Sure he's a simpleminded frat bro with a racist sister and a vacant stare, but he's not the only offender.
In January 2012, Atlanta Hawks forward Ivan Johnson was photographed sporting a diamond grill while riding the bench during a game.
At least Lochte had the good sense to not wear his while playing sports. The same cannot be said for Mr. Johnson.
7. Changing Your Name
Have you ever known a person in real life who changed his or her name for any reasons other than adoption, marriage, divorce or to assimilate? Probably not. Neither have I.
That's because normal people go through their entire lives with the names that were picked for us at birth.
But athletes and celebrities have absolutely no problem abandoning their names and demanding that their friends, family and the American public adjust to their new made-up names. Sometimes they think they have a legitimate reason for a name change (like converting to Islam), but often times it's just an uncreative ploy for attention. For instance:
Chad Johnson changes his name to Chad Ochocinco and then back to Chad Johnson
The literal Spanish translation of the numbers 8 and 5. Not 85, his actual number. Is it any wonder he changed it back?
Ron Artest changes his name to Metta World Peace
I like to think he appreciates the irony of someone who is prone to random violent outbursts wearing "World Peace" on his back. But I know he probably doesn't.
Greg White changes his name to Stylez G. White
Maybyner Hilario changes his name to Nene
He probably wanted to go by a single name like soccer legend Pele. Or like Madonna, Cher or Rihanna.
6. Buying Lamborghinis
I almost understand the desire to blow a half-million dollars on a Lamborghini. I actually used to have two framed posters of Lamborghinis hanging on my bedroom walls. I won them playing a carnival game at Kennywood, and they were pretty much representative of everything I was striving to be at that time in my life—being rich enough to buy a Lamborghini.
So the instinct is familiar to me, but the memory is hazy given that I was 12 years old at the time.
For most of us plebs, priorities change as we age and our Lamborghini dreams are dashed in favor of more practical endeavors. Maybe I'm jealous or maybe I've just grown up, but there's something so loathsome about a grown man driving a Lamborghini.
Many athletes miss out on a lot of those important growing up years because of sports commitments and then when they come into massive fortunes, they behave like a 15-year-old boy with a blank check. Kobe Bryant, Mario Williams and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the high profile athletes with a Lamborghini in their garage.
Chad "LOOK AT ME" Johnson joined their ranks in September 2012 when he celebrated his newfound unemployment by dropping $300,000 on a Lamborghini Aventador. The purchase came just three weeks after it was reported that Johnson was facing foreclosure on his Miami condo.
Well, there's no better investment than a new car—right? Wrong.
5. Fashion Glasses
I've said this before, and I'll say it again because I think it's something that bears repeating. As someone who needs glasses to see things, it really bothers me to see every hipster athlete in sports rocking the lensless fashion glasses.
I hate having to go to a doctor every single year for a new prescription for my corrective lenses, and I feel that lensless fashion glasses make a mockery of the reality that the vision impaired face every day.
What if the next hipster trend is rolling around in a pimped out wheel chair? Or hitting the town with a high-priced fashion cane? How about a diamond studded eyepatch with matching parrot accessory?
You see where I'm going with this—it's a slippery slope. Today it's lensless fashion glasses, tomorrow it's arm sleeves created from Ed Hardy brand Band-Aids.
4. Owning Exotic Pets
Many athletes have an unquenchable thirst for attention. I'm not going to delve into the psychology of that and what may or may not have happened in their childhood to make them this way. Not because I'm vastly unqualified to make such an assessment, but because I really just don't care.
If an athlete is that desperate for validation, it's his (or her) own business unless he uses an exotic pet to attract that attention.
The sad fact of the matter is that most stories of exotic pet ownership by unqualified idiots don't have a happy ending. And the sight of Chad "LOOK AT ME" Johnson's tiger in that tiny cage keeps me up at night. And Johnson certainly isn't the only offender.
Before filing for bankruptcy, Mike Tyson collected Siberian white tigers, one of which was confiscated from a tattoo parlor in Gary, Indiana. Darnell Dockett tweeted out a photo of him and his pet alligator Nino in July 2011—lets see how fond Dockett is of Nino when he's nine feet long. And in January 2011 court documents revealed that (now unemployed) Gilbert Arenas paid $1 million for his shark tank grotto, and the sharks cost $6,500 per month to feed and care for.
Treating animals like fashion accessories and throwing them away when they go out of style is disgusting.
3. Tell-All Books
The tell-all book is a time honored tradition.
Over the years athletes have written tell-all books for various reasons, all of which stem from their deep-rooted narcissism. Every now and again these mostly self-serving tales are actually worth a read, but more often than not they are just literary pollutants capable of making the most dedicated library reconsider her stance on book burning.
These terrible tell-alls fall into one of three distinct categories:
Jose Canseco's Juiced and Pete Rose: My Story come to mind.
Lance Armstrong's teammate Tyler Hamilton is the most recent athlete to capitalize on "coming clean" as The Secret Race chronicles the widespread doping he witnessed in cycling.
But we already knew that Jose Canseco's big fat neck, along with his stats, ballooned because of steroid use. And we already knew that Pete Rose bet on baseball, including the Reds. And now we all know that Lance Armstrong was some kind of doping kingpin for most of his career.
So why is anyone forking over their hard-earned cash to line the pockets of these liars?
Too Soon Memoirs
The book is a melodramatic sob story that harps on all of her trials and tribulations growing up and a grandiose account of her rise to fame.
Solo's claims that Dancing with the Stars is rigged reeked of sour grapes, her accusation that her dance partner slapped her was vehemently denied, her continued ranting about former teammate Brandi Chastain was pathetic and her confession that she once kissed a girl (while asserting her definitive heterosexuality) sounded made up.
The shockingly whitewashed Paterno comes to mind.
Author Joe Posnanski was present for many of the events that unfolded in the late Joe Paterno's life in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse allegations coming to light.
Instead of confronting the allegations head-on, Posnanski awkwardly glosses over them and deliberately seeks to muddy the water with ambiguous open-ended questions about what Paterno knew and when he knew it.
Next time just let Jay Paterno write the book, okay?
2. Free Throw High Fives
Back in the late '80s and early '90s when I was too young (or too blind) to realize how terrible I was, I actually used to play basketball.
That's right, me and my Catholic grade school girlfriends played in a Catholic school all-girls basketball league. We had uniforms and everything.
Needless to say, most games were low scoring affairs. And other than all of the air balls chucked from the free-throw line, I don't remember all that much about playing the game.
Although, one thing I do remember distinctly was the post free-throw high five ritual. I hated the congratulatory obligation.
Maybe I'm just not as easily impressed. I don't find any value in being commended for completing mundane tasks, and I don't believe there's any value in commendation that comes too easily.
It's fine for 10-year-old girls, but NBA stars are making millions and should be expected to hit their free throws without a proverbial pat on the back.
What ever happened to the satisfaction of a job well done?
1. Trademarking Stupid Things
I realize that the decision to trademark something is a business decision, a simple matter of dollars and cents. And considering the number of professional athletes who go broke within five years of retirement, amassing the largest possible fortune to insulate themselves from bad investments and reckless spending is advisable.
That being said, most athletes who move to trademark something in popular culture end up looking like absolute idiots, as opposed to savvy businessmen. Although some have proved extremely lucrative, like Michael Buffer's decision to trademark the phrase "Let's get ready to rumble!", which has netted him $400 million in licensing fees.
But Buffer relied on his own smarts to make money. Unfortunately most athletes rely on the vast stupidity of the general public to make their money. Here's a list of idiotic things athletes have trademarked.
That's a clown question, bro.
Nationals rookie sensation Bryce Harper trademarked this nonsense, and now it's being sold on Under Armour shirts.
After his high-profile performance at the London Olympics, American swimmer Ryan Lochte filed paperwork to trademark the stupid catchphrase he ripped off from rapper Young Jeezy's "Chea!" The process has stalled because it's being challenged by a web company called "Jeah Communications."
After going pro, one of the first decisions that Hornets rookie Anthony Davis made was to trademark his unibrow.
Are you serious?!
Tennis' most famous loose cannon, John McEnroe, trademarked the verbal lynchpin of his most famous tirade. So don't say it out loud, otherwise you'll get a bill in the mail. Seriously.
Just one of the many "Shaq" related phrases trademarked by retired NBA great Shaquille O'Neal in the peak of his egomania.
Months after the death of "Linsanity," former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin finally won the battle to trademark the frenzy that he inspired. Way to strike while the iron is hot.
What's weird about this is that Tim Tebow waited almost a full year before moving to trademark this annoying trend that just won't die. Better late than never though, because unlike "Linsanity," Tebowing lives on.
Ball So Hard University
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs claimed this fictional school as his alma mater in 2011 and immediately attempted to trademark the name. He's been embroiled in a legal battle for over a year with someone who had the same idea.
For more stupid, moneymaking trademarks, click over to ESPN.
And for more of my opinionated take on what is hot in sports, and what is definitely not, hit me up on Twitter: Follow @blamberr
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