Claire Cane Miller's says in the New York Times that social media has silenced
debate on political issues. She cites surveys done by Rutgers University in which people
would discuss the issues at the dinner table, but were less inclined to post feelings on political issues like the Edward Snowden case on Facebook and Twitter. This silence may be relevant to political issues and other serious topics, but social media debate on sports topics definitely has not been quelled. If anything the addition of social media and other new media has fueled debate.
ESPN, the major sports network in the world today, produces most sports debate, but before Facebook started in 2004 ESPN had only two debate shows, Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn. According to Wikipedia, "The Worldwide Leader" now has nine television shows that are debate oriented. And that does not include their wide range of podcast debate shows centered on more narrow subjects.
On top of the increased focus in debate, these shows have embraced social media and used it as an easy springboard for finding topics and gathering information on what the public thinks.
The most famous debate show, First Take, has social media references all over it at all times.
You'll notice the Youtube banner and their channel in the upper right hand corner. This allows for their audience to find other debates and give the show feedback, or get involved in the debate themselves.
Here is some debate from users fueled by the Youtube availability of this exact episode:
The video screen shot also shows the twitter handle Skip Bayless, the man currently debating, so you can easily reach them or pose questions to the show.
PTI used to only use email for the show during their "Mail Time" segment in which viewers send in questions for the hosts. Now they almost exclusively rely on twitter and facebook.
SportsNation uses it for polling their viewers and adding the results to the show:
Not only has the social medias added to the sports debate shows, it has also added to debate done outside of any show medium. On November 23 of this year, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made a catch that some consider to be the greatest of all-time. Not according to NFL analyst Adam Schefter.
Obviously some of his followers will either agree or disagree with him, but it all starts that social debate.
Cain talks about how the new social media is a vessel for harassment. This is no different in the world of sports. Many of the responses to Schefter's harmless tweet were expletive filled. The Podcast SVP & Russillo actually has a segment based on the written wars that co-host Scott Van Pelt gets into with his followers.
Even with all the advantages of the new media sports personalities are still highly discouraged in getting involved in political issues.
Baseball writer Keith Law was suspended last weekend after tweeting about intermediate fossils and the existence of evolution. And long time writer and TV personality Bill Simmons was suspended for calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a "liar" when the commisioner said that he had not seen the footage of player Ray Rice beating up his girlfriend.
This showcases the uses of social media for a hobby topic like sports versus the more substantial and political topics.