Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The 1,440 Minute News Cycle & NFL Free Agency

One of the most significant (and panned) byproducts of the internet is the 24 hour news cycle. Gone are the days of reading about the news in the morning papers, finding out more during the evening and late night news shows, and the then waiting for the next morning for an update. With the 24 hour news cycle, stories can pop up at any time and have a life and death within a few hours. While the cycle allows for frivolous stories to take on steam, such stories can easily disappear just as quickly as they arrived. With the popularity of Twitter, there seems to be a 1,440 minute news cycle.

It’s not just “hard” news that works with the 24 hour/1,440 minute cycle; entertainment and sports news does as well. As we all know, the NFL finally reached labor peace over the weekend with the owners and players agreeing to a new 10 year CBA. Because of the longest work-stoppage in league history and the desire to start training camp and the season on time, the start to the league year has been truncated. NFL’s free agency signing period started yesterday at 10:00 am (in the past it started at 12:01 a.m.) with the first preseason game starting in less than 2 weeks.

Prior to the internet, football fans like myself would stay up late watching Sportscenter and go to sleep at about 1 a.m. waiting for any hard news which hardly came. Then we’d wait for the morning papers to see if there was anything new, but most likely it was simply a rehash of the news we saw last night. Who signed where and for how much? What did our team do? Sportscenter, however, only reported what deals were actually made. What fans couldn’t get at a moment’s notice was what we feed off: sports rumors. Who’s getting offered what? Who’s visiting where? Who’s in the know?

With the internet, even before the official start time, rumors fly through cyberspace. I and thousands of other Jet fans have been following sports beat writers in our Twitter feeds, scouring,,,, the beat writers blogs, Jet and other teams' fan message boards, etc. trying to find out what is going on. We refresh every few minutes for every site (opened up in multiple web browser tabs) in hopes for an update.

So I and many other fans haven't been turning on Sportscenter to find out the news. We have fellow fans to do that and they will report on message boards what they've seen. Of course, this is not reliable information, but it’s a good starting point. Whenever a fan declares something such as X player is on his way to Y team, or Z player is about to sign with B team, other fans take it at face value but want confirmation. The request is made simply by asking: “link?”

The Jets are usually the most active team in free agency and this time around has been no exception. They've re-signed their best wide receiver Santonio Holmes and there are rumors that they're going after the best cornerback available to solidify their defense. With the new CBA there are new rules in place and a lower salary cap than prior years, but the team's excellent general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, is known to be creative to get the big and small deals done.

And so it goes for NFL fans on the start of free agency. We stay up much later trying to find out as much as we can and are able to find out real-time news the moment we wake up. For us, at least, the 24 hour/1,440 minute news cycle is a godsend.

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