I recently had a short and friendly debate with B/R columnist Kyle Vassalo about the difference in draft hype between Reggie Bush and Peyton Manning, brought on by the impending draft hype for Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Vassalo contended that Bush had more hype than Manning; I contended the opposite.
The difference in opinion brought an interesting thought: How do we measure hype any more?
My reasoning for arguing Manning’s hype was that he was drafted “pre-Internet” and that the buzz around him didn’t extend a whole lot farther than SportsCenter. Back in those days (1997-98), sports fans rarely got their national news on television from anyone but ESPN. If there was a story about Peyton Manning, that’s the sports discussion you were going to hear about for the next five minutes. Your only real option was to hope something interesting was on ESPN2 (unlikely at the time) or that your local Fox station was doing a national piece.
Those days are over; the Internet has given us choices. Obviously. You’re at Bleacher Report, and there are myriad other national sites, blogs, local papers, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, along with a fire hose of television packages where you get news and opinion on sports. Reggie Bush was drafted before a couple of those conduits hit the mainstream, (2006) but for all intents and purposes, the hype around him (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating) had thousands more channels to the public than Manning’s.
So who had greater hype?
Analogize with me. Pretend we hang a bed sheet and a T-shirt on a clothesline and spray both with a hose for a few seconds. When finished, the bed sheet is soaked but isn’t dripping; the T-shirt is soaked (with less total water than the bed sheet), but dripping all over the place. Which one is wetter?
You could make an argument for either.
Bush may have had the greater “volume of hype” but Manning had the greater “saturation of hype.”
While doubling as a lens for examining media over the last decade, Manning’s hype becomes the more impressive. Old school media had to be judicious with how they utilized their bandwidth; they had a limited supply. If they monopolized the time with the wrong stories, viewers would tune out, and revenue and ratings would be lost.
Today, producers and editors are far less worried about taking up “space” because of the seeming boundlessness of Internet content. (Try to count the number of articles up on Bleacher Report right now.) And, albeit to a lesser extent, they have an ever-expanding catalogue of iterative networks at their disposal (How many ESPNs are there now?).
We can hype Reggie Bush until the cows come home because we’ve got the room. Peyton Manning managed to garner nationwide and complete hype in an environment that had to pinch hype-pennies. In some ways, for a guy like Andrew Luck that continuing shift means that out-hyping the previous two is almost impossible. Any “can’t miss” prospect will have a harder time garnering more than the last because every year the boundaries of available content and channels expands further.
If we’re still looking to soak something with the hose and Manning was the T-shirt, Bush the bed sheet, that will make Luck, what, the circus tent? We simply can’t saturate media anymore; too much exists.
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