2014 Predictions Part 3: Everything Else

With little over 24 hours left in 2013, it’s time for my last predictions for 2014. I couldn’t be arsed to do two more bits, so I’m just doing one more blog post, and hopefully will keep this short.

Without further ado:

We’re gonna get dumber next year

2013 was the year of stupidity, or just another year of it. We also had a lot of internet hoaxes (hoaxi?), ranging from a stupid spat on an airplane which turned out to be completely false, a story about how Iron Maiden followed it’s music pirates, and a few others. Over the past year, the credibility of online sources went really downhill.

While part of me wants to lay it at the feet of outlets such as Buzzfeed, Upworthy, ViralNova, and Breitbart, in reality the problem is really us, the consumers. We simply do not take the time to examine what we hear or read critically. Mainly, this is because we don’t have the time, nor the resources, to do so. But still, people can and should be raising their eyebrow in a Spock manuever more often. It’s a shame we don’t.

I honestly expect it to get worse. People are offloading so many cognitive functions to others–hoping for experts and the “news” to tell them everything–that they just won’t think about things.

Also, in a related vein, I see the phenomenon of trying to create viral posts by outfits like those mentioned above increasing dramatically, before suffering some sort of backlash and dying…only to be replaced by something even more grotesque. You know what I’m talking about: “This Guys Had A Great Plan Going, But What Happened Next Changed Everything.” It’s a technique that has annoyed a lot of people, though nowhere near enough to actually change things.

So that’s depressing.

Quality of discourse will suffer

Ever had socio-political, economic, theological, or any other debate online? Yeah. They’re gonna get worse next year. More ad hominem, more fallacies, more refusal to even research their own opinions (and probably demand you to do it for them), more just plain stupidity.

How do I know? Call it an educated guess. The longer I’ve lived, the worse and worse these discussions have gotten.

No significant change in religion

Dunno if anyone’s said there’s going to be an uptick in atheism next year, but I’m calling it now: there won’t be any significant change in anything religious next year. Maybe a point or two fewer Christians calling themselves evangelical, but probably not even that.

Cable companies will continue to suck (your money)

So I bought my parents a Google Chromecast for Christmas so they could watch their ABC shows online without having to physically plug in the laptop to the TV. (They’re old, you know.) However, we just discovered that starting Jan 6th, they’re going to need a provider code from their TV provider in order to watch ABC shows online.

They don’t have a “provider.” They get their shows over the air, via digital broadcast.

This is the way of the cable companies twisting the arms of the networks to force consumers to buy hideously expensive cable/satellite packages instead of just cutting the cord and using Roku (or a Chromecast). This will continue throughout 2014. My question is when it actually ends; when will the jig be up? 2015? 2016? 2020? Later? I don’t know. But it seems to me that it will happen sooner or later. Probably sooner. Then people will watch what they want online, including with all the ads.

Just not soon enough, unfortunately.

Kansas City Chiefs Crush The Seattle Seachickens To Win Super Bowl XLVIII

I’m calling it now. I’m also calling my bank to reassure myself I have enough money to cover my losses.

What is the point of college sports, again?

While watching NCAA March Madness (for once in my life), my roommate explained to me that, when there’s a commercial during the game, they stop play. So nothing happens when the network isn’t covering it. Indeed, according to my roommate, the networks have negotiated predetermined blackout times with the NCAA so they can afford to put in short bursts of commercials without missing a moment from the game.

I would take no issue with this were it the NBA or the NFL. Ultimately, both organizations are purely for-profit entities whose goal is to provide entertainment and make boatloads of money off it. If there weren’t any networks, they wouldn’t really have a raison d’etre. (I’m sure they would, in some sense, since there were sports leagues before major cable networks, but it would be vastly different than it would be today.) But can the same thing be said about the NCAA?

The NCAA–the National Collegiate Athletic Association–is ostensibly an organization that unites and coordinates sports at college campuses across the country. It still pays attention to the “Corinthian Ideal,” that athletes should not be paid. (Indeed, all NCAA athletes, no matter how skilled they are, are technically “amateurs,” since they are not paid, as “professionals” are.) The point of the NCAA is not really to make money. It is to provide a welcoming environment for students who decide to play sports and to provide a tournament at the end of the year where they can show off their skills and have a sense of accomplishment, even if they bombed out in the first (well, now, really the second) round.

Another thing that really bothers me is that these players are having millions of dollars being made off their efforts, yet they really don’t see any of it. After all, they are not supposed to be paid in any way (aside from athletic scholarships, which is indirect) and can’t make any material fortunes off the merchandising based around them. This, to me, seems wrong. They deserve to reap the bounties of what they have sown, and I don’t think that getting a scholarship to college is really an adequate bounty for that.

We have to ask ourselves, “What is the point of college?” To me, the point of college is education. You go to college to improve yourself, to learn new skills, to challenge yourself with new ideas and new horizons, and to then use this new found knowledge to go on to all new heights. Far too many, though, view college as four (or five) years (personally, I did in three) of either goofing off and just having lots of sex, booze, and drugs; or they view it as a training ground for a professional sports league. While both bother me, the latter bothers me marginally more. Are colleges accepting students because they have the capacity to learn and improve themselves, and thus bring value to society? Or are they being accepted because they can shoot some hoops or score some touchdowns?

Don’t get me wrong, sports can bring value (considerable value) to society, but I don’t think  they should be doing that in college. If the NBA and the NFL really want to have development leagues where they can get new players, they should invest the time, money, and energy to make them. MLB has its farm system; futbol (the real one, which many Americans idiotically call “soccer,”) usually operates on a delegation and relegation format that works surprisingly well at ensuring new talent and teams. While there is no really no system in place for the NBA, after the Continental Basketball Association died back in ’09, the NFL does have the up and coming United Football League to work with (which, unfortunately, now just has a bunch of ex-NFL players) and they could easily start a spring league for people even lower on the ladder.

We need to dismantle the current system for college athletics, abolish athletic scholarships entirely, and move to a system with developmental leagues. It’s fine for students to play sports, but to trot them out there and just use them as pawns for schools to make money–which, actually, most of them simply don’t–is just disgusting. It makes me think of the Hunger Games (though, in all honesty, I haven’t read them, though I shall, eventually.) It also takes away from students who well and truly want to learn something, and actually have their schools’ budgets go to academic instruction, rather than prettying up the campus or trying to send teams to conference championships across the country.

This should also not be considered a knock against professional sports leagues and students who participate in the NCAA. While, when I watch the NCAA advert that says “Still think we’re dumb jocks?” and I say “Yes,” I really meant they’re just in the wrong place and should be out focusing on their real talents, instead of being in college, wasting their time. And the pro leagues definitely have their place. But the current system, as it is, cannot and should not stand. Either start playing your college players real dough for what they’re doing, or end it.