LaVar Ball appeared on Colin Cowherd’s show Wednesday. He revealed himself to be a rather small baller. Feeling his brand under logical attack, he dismissed Kristine Leahy for being a woman, refused to look her in the face and quasi-threatened her. It was dark. It was ugly. It lacked any of his bonhomie and self-awareness. One suspects (or hopes) that will be the last time Ball gets booked for ESPN or FS1.

Ball requires minimal exegesis. He is a vacuous blowhard. We know the type well. We elected one president. His antics, hardly the mark of a promotional genius have already (and will continue to) cost his talented son money. His media rise the past few months was lamentable, and we were all complicit. Me on the “content creation” side and you for consuming it.

If blowhards possess a modicum of charm, we love them, often more than those whose behavior warrants esteem. The biggest journalist/pundit in the sports media? It’s Stephen A. Smith. Maybe Skip Bayless. The most prominent former athlete in the sports media? Charles Barkley.

Calling such figures “polarizing” injects too much intellect. It’s not what they say or the debate that engenders. It’s an intrinsic fascination at the flouting of social norms. They do the things you won’t do. They say the things you won’t say. Their egos are too bulksome and unwieldy to tread the line of propriety for long. You can’t look away. You want to see what happens when they cross it.

LaVar Ball snowballing into a phenomenon should surprise no one. People were talking about him. ESPN and FS1 put him on TV. Those moments, with the aid of a myriad of websites, went viral. ESPN and FS1, thus, put him back on TV. At each step, people watched, clicked, and couldn’t get enough of it. Those media members most aggrieved LaVar Ball continued to be “news” were the aptest to discuss him.

This sort of thing happens every day. It’s both a media problem and a societal one. We’ve come to a consensus no one wants to pay for online media consumption. Outlets are forced to target their audience with algorithms to maximize traffic. Increased financial pressure squeezes out the remnants of a broader purpose or moral compass.

Even if you have a slight, subconscious desire for a little LaVar Ball in your life, metrics will pick up on that. News outlets will shove him in your face until you stop reacting, probably with blaring autoplay video ads.

We saw this with Trump. We saw this with the male romper. The idea of one, with a well-produced video, elicited a reaction. Media outlets caught on and covered it. It was just the idea. It’s not a trend. The actual product does not exist. It’s a Kickstarter that has now raised more than $220,000. There’s now a high probability the male romper will become a trend, at least until those first daring masters of topical irony attempt to use a public restroom in one.

Did media just willingly serve as de facto brand advertising? Did it matter, if people clicked? As many have said before, you get the media for which you pay.

LaVar Ball took his asininity a step too far. That was the only way to kill the cycle. We’ve been spared a “Dancing With The Stars” appearance. There will be no 2020 Democratic Primary run, which we can only three-quarters of the way joke about now. One can only hope the elder Ball disappears back to some netherworld where the only people his braggadocio plagues are those poor folks stuck with him in a pickup game.

Maybe, just maybe there’s still space for Lonzo to have an untrammeled career and to get a real sponsorship deal at some point.

About Ty Duffy

Ty is a freelance writer/editor based outside Detroit. He's a Michigan Man. He enjoys dogs, whiskey, yoga, and composing pithy career summaries. Contact him at tyduffy@gmail.com.

  • PAI

    There are enough 10 cent words in this story that even Stephen A Smith is impressed.

  • StoJa

    “This was caused by all of us” – The fuck it was.

    • Mike

      Exactly right. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I’d even begin to think “Gee, I wonder what’s up with LaVar Ball right now?” If the media just ignores the guy, there won’t be a public outcry, wondering where they can buy their $495 shoes.

  • MrBull

    If ’caused by all of us’ you mean, you Ty Duffy and your fellow media members – then you are 100% correct!…
    Those of us that make up the viewing public have nothing to do with the bs, crap and garbage that the sports networks and cable channels decide to ‘shove down or throats’ everyday…
    And the same goes for articles or columns written like yours!…

  • Greenhouze

    FS1 is unwatchable so I doubt anyone saw Ball’s appearance until you brought it up Duffy, so thanks for contributing to his fame

  • Troy Winston

    Your assumptions are idiotic Duffy. Trump has nothing to do with this situation. And just trying to drop his name into the conversation in order for you to sell an argument that it’s all our fault, is just lazy and wildly inaccurate.

  • BobLee Says

    The latest audition column as Ty Duffy hopes to join Jamele & Bomani as a John Skipper Hate-Trumper attack dog. That said…. I don’t disagree that LaVar Ball IS a product of a free market “supply & demand” cycle. Cowherd acknowledged as much in his next day rehash of the on-air trainwreck. To quote Mencken: “A man will never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”

  • sportsfan365

    The media has unfortunately dissolved into nothing but a social media mouthpiece.

  • John Danknich

    I just try to ignore it all. Difficult, but not impossible. 🙂

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