In the year 2020, becoming a “star” is not as difficult a thing to do as it once was. Instagram, twitter, youtube, and even tik tok have created a way for anyone to get noticed and gain popularity. In the world of sports, getting noticed is a result of skill, but what one does after they are noticed hinges on their ability to capitalize on these new platforms. As a player it is about self- promotion, and building a following. However, this task also falls on the shoulders of the team they play for and the league they play in. It is the responsibility of the professional sports leagues to market their players and maximize their opportunities, in an effort to gain popularity.

Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, appeared on hugely popular sports podcast, Pardon My Take earlier this February. Amongst many things, Cuban discussed the NBA’s ability to create stars via social media versus the inability of the MLB to do so. On the podcast, Cuban explained that he looks for different angles to market the NBA, saying ““You don’t see baseball you don’t see hockey, what do you see in all of your highlights?” in reference to social media feeds. The answer to his question of course, was basketball. Cuban illuminated that starting in high school, these players are all over Instagram in twitter. He explained that they gain followings before even getting to college and by the time they get to the pros they are on the verge of becoming a big star. He articulated to the PMT hosts that the NBA takes advantage of this by posting tons of their own content but more importantly allowing others to use their content without repercussion. Furthermore, when he was asked specifically about the MLB his response was simply “they’re fu**ed”. His reasoning behind saying this is that the MLB is way too strict on social media sharing. If their content is used by anyone other than them, it is immediately taken down. Even sites centered around sports can not use the MLB’s content. As a result, the stars of baseball go unseen and the MLB loses popularity. In this day in age, with fantasy leagues and video games, it is the players that drive the revenue more so than the teams. The MLB is blatantly missing this, while the NBA is taking full advantage.

Personally, I strongly agree with Cuban. The MLB is screwed. Developing an online presence is crucial to success for any person, team, or league, and the MLB has missed the mark entirely. For me, my favorite NBA player is James Harden. I can only watch Harden play when he is on national television, but he became my favorite player as a result of playing with him on 2k and seeing his highlights night after night on twitter. My favorite MLB player is Bryce Harper, but only because he plays for my favorite team. NBA players are so well marketed that I feel like I personally know them, while MLB players I don’t see at all. It feels like America’s pastime is unfortunately stuck in the past.

The most agonizing part about it, is that it is not a hard fix. The MLB needs to allow anyone and everyone to share their content and they need to make it a top priority to brand their players. Promote the players, let others promote the players, and do whatever it takes to develop stars. The MLB and lost the interest of multiple generations but if they act fast they can change that.

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