You the Referee: Internet Activism enters the Sports Arena
In the world of sports, Internet activism is one way for fans and important personalities to influence what happens in the sport to which they are connected. Many ruling bodies and Commissioner’s offices tend to monitor Internet activity as a way of gauging popularity and fan acceptance, and even coaches and managers have learned how to monitor Internet activity in order to discover how paying and TV-viewing fans are reacting to their various decisions. Because of this need, companies have developed special software programs designed to monitor Internet activity, especially by checking social media websites and tools.
The Controversial Win of the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers
The recent “victory” of the Seahawks over the Packers, and the subsequent outrage expressed by dismayed NFL fans demonstrate that Internet activism can influence current events in the sports world. Prior to this game, the NFL powers-that-be authorized the employment of replacement refs due to its labor contract dispute with the referees’ union. Because both sides could not agree to a compromise, the regular refs did not go to work, and the league was forced to employ replacements as the season began. For those who used software to monitor Internet activity regarding this move, they found that fans were apprehensive.
The stupidity of this decision soon became apparent to everyone at the end of the game. The Seattle QB had thrown a desperation heave towards the end zone in the dying seconds of the game, and a Green Bay player was able to intercept the ball before the Seahawk receiver could put his hands on it. But the replacement refs consider it a touchdown and a victory for the Seahawks, even after spending 10 minutes reviewing the tape.
Twitter exploded with derision. There was no need to learn how to monitor Internet activity to gauge fan reaction, as even the mainstream media got into the act. After a constant barrage of contempt and ridicule, the NFL higher-ups finally agreed to a compromise with the regular refs in order to bring about their return.
Sometimes, Internet Activism Can Fail
The recent bout of Manny Pacquiao against Timothy Bradley is an example of how Internet activism may still be unable to bring about necessary change. Pacquiao was an overwhelming favorite going into the fight, and most of the discussions among experts were centered on what round Bradley would be knocked out by Pacquiao’s lightning-quick fists. However, in the fight no knockout took place, and the judges were the ones to determine the winner of the bout. Even as sportswriters already set to publish online reports of a Pacquiao win, the announcer stunned the crowd—and perhaps the entire sporting world—when it was announced that Bradley had retained his crown by a split decision. It made sense to no one, as even the declared winner Bradley admitted for the need to see the tape of the fight in order to figure out how he won.
Sports writers and commentators had a field day with that decision, and those who were using software to monitor Internet activity reported that Twitter has exploded with outrage from disbelieving fans. Those who tried to monitor Internet activity reported that many illustrious figures in other sports believed that it was another stain in the history of boxing, and that they would never again pay to watch a boxing match after such a poor decision.
However, the decision was upheld, and no significant change has taken place in boxing even after the display of Internet activism. Perhaps the Nevada state athletic commission did not know how to monitor Internet activity to evaluate fan reaction to their decision, but it is more probable that they just simply don’t care.