12 Signs the Good Ol' Days of Sports Are Gone

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2015

12 Signs the Good Ol' Days of Sports Are Gone

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Ah, the good ol’ days, when taking your family to a game didn’t require a second mortgage and an NBA star’s dental work was not considered big news.

    What are the good ol’ days, exactly? You know, just…back then. Back then, before technology blew up and the Internet made sports news accessible 'round the clock. Some things in sports are just different now—for better or for worse, well, that’s a matter of opinion.

    The following 12 signs indicate a changing of the sports landscape. Some changes are more significant than others, but all serve as reminders that the good ol' days can’t last forever.

Wrigley Field Has a Jumbotron

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    Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    One of Wrigley Field’s great claims to fame over the years has been the tradition emanating from every corner of the building. The ivy, the bleachers, the old scoreboard—all have contributed to the nostalgic feeling of the place, now over 100 years old.  

    In 2013, the Chicago Cubs announced plans for a $300 million renovation project that included a Jumbotron. The renovations aren’t complete, but the Jumbotron is there, and its existence somehow seems like it represents the end of an era.

LeBron James' Dentist Visit Is Big News

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    Social media has made athletes infinitely more accessible than they used to be, at least virtually. That said, there are some things you just don’t need to know about. For instance, does anyone particularly care when LeBron James goes to the dentist or when Floyd Mayweather takes a bath?

    It’s a novel idea—athletes connecting with fans—but this level of personal access does kill the mystique a little.

No More Bo Jacksons

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    Jim Davidson/Associated Press

    The era of specialization in sports has rendered another Bo Jackson highly unlikely. Russell Wilson recently said he hasn’t given up the idea of playing baseball in addition to football, but it is hard to imagine. 

    In the good ol’ days, all the way back to Jim Thorpe, multi-talented athletes could realistically play multiple sports at a high level. Now, the specialization and time commitment required to have success in just one professional sport all but eliminates the possibility of anyone playing two.

Trash Talk Has Gone Digital

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Many athletes use social media as a way to interact with each other, and it’s not always friendly. For instance, instead of letting on-field play alone do the talking, some athletes are taking their beef to Twitter. Looking at you, Richard Sherman

    The great thing about trash-talking in the days before social media was it generally had to be done in the flesh. Reggie Miller, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali—their in-person big talk helped define each of them. For players today, it's just not the same.

7 Kentucky Players Declared for the NBA Draft

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    James Crisp/Associated Press

    The recent mass exodus from Kentucky basketball solidified what we already knew: Things have changed.

    It used to be that the NBA required young players to be out of high school for four years before playing in the NBA. A young man named Spencer Haywood changed that in the early 1970s when he signed with the Seattle SuperSonics three years out of high school. He won a subsequent legal battle with the NBA and paved the way for guys like Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant to eventually enter the draft straight from high school.

    Despite the ruling, players generally stuck to tradition at first. Even Michael Jordan played three years of college basketball. But now, the landscape has totally changed. Who knows what will happen—will the one-and-done rule remain? Will the NBA increase the age minimum or possibly eliminate it? Either way, the old days are gone.

Baseball Cards Gone the Way of the Dinosaur

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Collecting baseball cards used to be big time. Unfortunately for nostalgic sports fans, a decline in both value and interest has put card collecting on the fast track to relic status.

    It's not totally dead, but it's on the decline. Good luck getting most young people interested in pieces of cardboard when they could be playing MLB 14: The Show or tweeting about Alex Rodriguez.

Minor Leaguer Gets More Hype Than Pros

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    We live in an age where you can get sports news 24/7. The demand for constant content has elevated hype around stories that, back in the day, would’ve been a sidebar at best.

    The Chicago Cubs recently recalled infielder Kris Bryant from Triple-A. Bryant is a promising young prospect, and his arrival in Chicago is news. However, the amount of national press this got seemed a bit much. His debut dominated the sports world on a day when the NHL playoffs were happening and the NBA postseason matchups had just been set.

Memes Are a Thing

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Since the Internet is a thing, and since Photoshop is a thing, no longer can a player trip on a basketball court without the world mercilessly making fun of him.

    The sports world is definitely not immune from the meme craze, and Tony Parker is just the latest victim. He took a spill during the San Antonio Spurs’ first-round playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Apparently in some discomfort, he laid face down on the floor, and the Internet jumped all over him and his “plank.”

Unproven Rookie Can Lead League in Jersey Sales

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Shortly after he was drafted in 2014, Johnny Manziel’s Cleveland Browns jersey led the NFL in sales for a time. When an unproven rookie can generate that level of popularity without having taken one snap in a professional game, you know times are changing. 

    Manziel was a star in college, but people who bought his pro jersey did it largely for one reason: hype. We now live in a world where hype can, and often does, trump actual performance.

Managers and Umpires Getting Along

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    When MLB expanded instant replay rules in 2014 to include manager challenges, it changed one of baseball’s beloved traditions. No longer do managers charge from the dugouts to yell, scream, kick dirt and just generally make a scene for the sake of a call. Now, they simply decide whether or not to challenge it. Manager-umpire arguments aren't completely gone, but they've certainly mellowed out.

    According to Mike Bauman of MLB.com, Joe Maddon said, “It's just turning into a lovefest. That's part of it. The umpires are great guys. I have a great relationship with all of them. But it's almost like you can't get upset anymore.”

Family Outings Break the Bank

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Going to a game used to be a good family-bonding activity. Now it's more likely to break the bank.

    According to the Team Marketing Report, the estimated cost of taking a family of four to a San Francisco 49ers game was $638.50 in 2014. That figure includes four average-priced tickets, parking, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, two programs and two adult hats.

    Baseball games are cheaper, but you still have to be willing to shell out over $200 for the game experience.

Selfies Are the New Autographs

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    An autograph from your favorite player used to be the Holy Grail in sports. Now, it seems physical access to players is more limited, plus memorabilia dealers have left a sour taste in some athletes’ mouths. With autographs losing their luster, selfies have swooped in to pick up the slack.

    Case in point: Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens recently posed for a selfie with a young fan during a stoppage in play. Instead of a signed puck in a glass case, the fan will likely preserve that selfie for years to come.