Social Media and Sports

After taking notes on myself to monitor my involvement with social media, I have noticed some striking similarities to the research that I have conducted. I have noticed that I use Facebook to do most of my debating with friends in my private group called Top Shelf Sports Talk. It is a private group I am a major member of and I find myself going there more often than on while on Facebook. Additionally, I comment on posts occasionally to get a sense of how the general public may feel about a particular piece of sports news or a meme to make fun of anything that may have happened in sports that day. Speaking of memes, Instagram has a very key role in sports media these days. A lot of the memes I find and the pregame/postgame photos are now being funnelled through Instagram as well. During the game, Twitter has proven very useful when I want to say something quickly to a large audience. I use Twitter the least out of the three social media sites that I have an account with, but it has a very specific, but purposeful use to live tweet any reactions or thoughts I may have. Overall, I have found this experiment pretty useful. It has helped me to look at social media critically and see what use each site has not only for me, but for other users as well.

A Special Shout Out

gastate-over-baylor

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

I arrived at the Georgia State Recreation Center right at the ten-minute mark for the second half of the Georgia State-Baylor game. There was a row of chairs set up in front of the only T.V. in the lobby with a camera set up right behind the crowd of Georgia State Panthers fans. I watched my 14th ranked Georgia State Panthers play on national T.V. against third-ranked Baylor Bears. I saw R.J. Hunter and company miss open shots and not capitalize on fastbreak opportunities. The Panthers were down 56-44 to the Baylor Bears with 2:54 seconds left to play in the game. As the minutes ticked down closer to zero, I caught a lump in my throat while hoping for a miracle.

R.J. Hunter was 0-9 from three-point land and I saw him continue to take numerous shots from beyond the arc. I screamed, I yelled, and I definitely cursed a few times. Appropriate? Not at all. Still, I held onto hope that something awesome was going to happen. I screamed. I yelled. I definitely cursed a few times.

Then, the Panthers defense turned up a notch, scoring 12 points in a matter of minutes, forcing three turnovers. R.J. Hunter heaved a long three “from Angora” as my friends would say, and knocked it down. The crowd went bananas in the rec center and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I jumped around with the other fans, screaming and chanting, “GSU! GSU! GSU! GSU!” I regained my composure quickly as Baylor as one last chance to, as a Baylor player threw up one last prayer, only to fall short. I chanted and yelled with my fellow fans as Georgia State made the impossible happen by stunning Baylor, with the final score 57-56 in favor of Georgia State.

R.J. Hunter

(Photo Credit: The Denver Post)

The point of this is not to highlight a game, rather, a moment in sports that evokes the same feelings that many fans may have experienced while seeing “a miracle” happen for their team: happiness, disbelief, and exhilaration. I didn’t know what it meant to have school spirit until that miracle happened. I was happy to be a part of that moment. I am proud to be a Panther. Most importantly, I’ll never forget it.

rj-and-his-dad

(Photo Credit: Fansided)

The Chop

MLB: NLDS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers

(Photo Credit: CBS Sports)

I’ll be honest: I am not an Atlanta Braves fan nor am I a huge baseball fan by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have learned enough over the years to know what makes a good baseball team tick and what components are necessary for a championship team: good defense, excellent starting pitching, good at-bats offensively, and clutch hitting in the most important moments. The Braves are lacking in most of these categories.

What I do not understand about the Braves is after winning the World Series in 1995, their record in the playoffs is 35-48, all while winning 15 division titles and 11 straight division titles from 1995 to 2005. Because of this, the Braves have created a reputation for being a team who goes to playoffs to lose, having a 35-48 record since then on top of not winning a playoff series since 2002.

FreddieFreeman

(Photo Credit: Rant Sports)

Up until the start of spring training, it is safe to say that the Braves have lost more talent than they have gained, most notably the Upton brothers Justin and B.J., Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, and Ervin Santana to free agency over the last two seasons. They have also fired their general manager Frank Wren. To be frank (bad word pun, I know), one must wonder if the Braves are still heading in a downward spiral. There is now an insurmountable pressure on Freddie Freeman, Julio Tehran, Craig Kimbrel, and newly acquired free agent outfielder Nick Markakis to produce early and often.

Julio Teheran

(Photo Credit: The Dark Room)

I think what the Braves need is a wake-up call. Blowing up the team to bring in young talent and focus on building up their farm system may be the best approach long-term for the Atlanta Braves. I believe that this team needs to rebuild from the ground up and focus on creating a new legacy, especially with the new stadium in the works. How they will accomplish that remains to be seen.

This also does not take away from the fact that the Atlanta Braves, on paper, do not look like a team bound for the playoffs. In addition, NBC Sports doesn’t have a good outlook on the team because of the moves that have been made by the Braves front office, or lack thereof. They summed up their overall outlook by saying, and I quote: “Overall, it’s tough to see where the Braves are any better going into 2015 than they were last season. FanGraphs projects them to finish as the second-worst team in baseball at 73-89, five games better than the division rival Phillies, who will be more or less intentionally losing in a rebuilding effort.”

Honestly, who knows what’s going to happen with the Braves next season? One thing remains certain: they aren’t doing themselves any favors.

Matty Ice

Will Falcons Fans Truly Embrace Him?

Matt-Ryan

(photo credit: Falcons Gab)

Fans around the city of Atlanta pack into the bars and the Georgia Dome to watch the Atlanta Falcons play every Sunday, with some fans still wearing Michael Vick jerseys. Matt Ryan aka “Matty Ice” is the current quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, but by the way many fans talk about the team itself, you would think that Ryan was some backup that just so happened to inherit the reins of the Falcons offense by default.

The way Matt Ryan is generally perceived is that he is a basic quarterback who can be replaced. Fans clamor for Vick in the stands when he does poorly, and at the same time, will blame Ryan for the Falcons’ poor play in the playoffs. In the last two seasons, Matt Ryan has compiled 54 touchdowns, 31 interceptions, while averaging a 67% completion percentage, 4605 yards in each season, and 288 yards per game (via Pro Football Reference). In addition, he was also ranked the 2nd best quarterback in both seasons.

So why does he not get the respect he deserves? Why does he get the blame for the team’s lack of success the last two years? The real problem with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 and 2014 is the lack of an effective running game (dead last in rushing yards in 2013, 27th out of 32 this past season), a porous and often injured offensive line (allowed 44 and 31 sacks, respectively), and a defense who can’t stop anyone (27th both years in scoring defense, as well as 27th and dead last in yards allowed). Despite these issues, Matty Ice made his way onto the 2014 NFC Pro Bowl roster.

NFL: Pro Bowl

(Matt Ryan in Pro Bowl 2014; photo credit: Reuters)

The good thing is that most fans are beginning to notice these issues with the team, and have made a call for change. With the hiring of Dan Quinn, a Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, maybe his fresh approach and his winning pedigree can turn things around for the Falcons. Maybe for once, Falcons fans can begin to appreciate what Matty Ice is doing for the team and his city before Father Time catches up with him because, hey, Father Time never loses.

Champs Again

I attended the GA State Panthers vs GA Southern Eagles men’s basketball game this Saturday in a packed house, with the student section fairly loud for a decent sized arena. The GA Southern fans were in the arena heavy, donning their dark blue jackets and t-shirts, splashed with white and gold. The Panthers of GA State paraded throughout the arena in their blue and red, and some even had their faces painted. It was a marvelous sight indeed to see such pride for each side, and although the game was played inside (as are all basketball games these days), it was a wonderful winter day (the temperature got to about 64 degrees Fahrenheit). I sat on the upper level, where most of the rowdy GA Southern fans were piling in, chanting various things, such as “Daddy’s Princess” (in reference to R.J. Hunter, who is coach Ron Hunter’s son) and “Panther Road Kill” for most of the game.

I sat here with a few of my friends, right in GA Southern’s main cheering section.

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The first half was filled with cheers and jeers, with many of the jeers coming from the Eagles fans directed right at the Panthers. Unfortunately for GA State, one of their best players, Ryan Harrow, went down fair early in the first half, pulling a muscle in his thigh. After a brief visit to the locker room, he gave it a go, to no avail, going to the bench for the rest of the game. Luckily for GA State, the play of guard R.J. Hunter and forward Curtis Washington pushed the Panthers out to an impressive lead in the second half and completely washed out the valiant efforts of the Eagles, winning 72-55 to capture their second straight regular season Sun Belt Championship. However, their job is not done. The playoffs for the automatic bid into the NCAA Final Four is approaching, and they will play their first game this Saturday, March 14 at 2 P.M. as the no. 1 seed.They are two wins from being back in the tournament for the first time since 2001. For Georgia State, this is a golden opportunity to right the wrongs of last year and “go dancing” this year. After seeing what Mercer did last year, one can hope that they can play spoiler and make some noise over the next three to four weeks.

Atlanta Sports Rejoice!

The Atlanta Hawks have given the city of Atlanta new found life in the Philips Arena, which is something that this city needs. The Hawks, as it stands now, are 49-12, which is the best record in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. Another thing to be happy about, low-key, is the Men’s Basketball team for Georgia State. They are currently 21-9, and is hosting a very crucial game that could get them an automatic bid into the NCAA Final Four Tournament, aka The Big Dance. Although I am not a native of Atlanta and I am also a Heat fan, I appreciate what the Hawks and the Panthers could do for our city, which lacks championship pedigree. Put simply, other teams don’t take Atlanta sports seriously in the playoffs. I sense that Atlanta is on the cusp of reversing that trend, but the fans of this city need to show their full support for these teams on a consistent basis and management needs to do a better job bringing in better players, adding better people to the front office, and making a better attempt at promoting fandom here in Atlanta. I am elated to announce that upon going for more basketball tickets for the GA State Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams that they sold out. That is a good sign for the support that GA State deserves and I hope that we can continue to not only support our collegiate teams to the fullest, but that the sports program as a whole can grow and become worthy adversaries when players step onto the field or the court.