I wrote a piece on local freshman Marvin Bagley III for Sports360AZ.com this week. ESPN and other sports publications have made household names of several high school athletes over the years. Just this week ESPN began airing Snoop and Son, a docu-series about Bishop Gorman senior Cordell Broadus, son of rapper Snoop Dogg. In the case of Marvin Bagley, the #1 ranked freshman basketball player in the world, the current social media atmosphere provides uncharted waters for how “big” an amateur athlete can become. I worry about our ability to remind ourselves that Bagley is just a kid playing the sport he loves.
Here’s an excerpt:
“I immediately began to wonder about whether or not this type of attention was a good thing. Sure, Bagley has already received plenty of publicity locally. In fact, this isn’t even the first time he’s received recognition from national media sources. Bagley had a scholarship offer from NAU just one month after turning 14, and when several colleges soon followed suit, Bleacher Report, Yahoo and ESPN all caught wind of, and disseminated Bagley’s story. Still, this is different. Marvin Bagley III is in high school now, and there’s a media presence at every single one of his games. ESPN and SportsCenter gave even the casual basketball fan a reason to follow a freshman’s day-in/day-out hoop journey in a way they didn’t have the ability to when prep phenoms LeBron James or Kevin Durant were entering high school. Even NBA rookie Andrew Wiggins, who was a freshman at Vaughan Secondary School in Ontario, Canada only six years ago, didn’t have this same Twitter/Facebook environment conducive to making kids superstar athletes while they also navigate puberty. Everything Bagley does from this point on is going to be dissected and scrutinized. In fact, that’s already started.”