Hot takes in sports are a reflection of hot takes in the world around us. We live in a polarized society. These days, foreign policy opinion leaders say that political polarization is the number one threat to the United States. More than nuclear programs and trade wars, it is our own polarization that could hurt us in the long run. Right now, social media platforms allow us to say what is on our minds and say it unequivocally. We have algorithms in our social media that show us things that we already agree with or are more likely to like. We have our own little bubbles to say what we want and say it loudly and with certainty. Sound familiar?
Hot takes are not a new phenomenon. Sports analysts and fans have been writing off or heralding players and teams since the beginning of time. I bet someone said that Koroibos did not have a chance in the first Olympic Games. Now though, everyone can hear it, and it is permanent.
Hot takes make sports more enjoyable. I personally take pride in getting a hot take correct, like saying that Pat Mahomes would be a stud and should be starting over Alex Smith last year. While he did not get the start, I ended up right on Mahomes. Yes, I just bragged in my column. Being right with a hot take is great, and freezing cold takes, takes that end up being completely wrong, can be just as fun (when someone else has it). Twitter is a place for hot takes and cold takes galore, with people tweeting about games, players and plays as they happen. When more information comes out, we get to find out who nailed it and who failed it.
Hot takes in sports, though, sometimes become a microcosm of our polarization. While the Rookie of the Season prediction is not quite as important as your opinion on gun legislation, we stand adamantly on our social media with our take until it is just too hard to ignore the contrary. People will fight, scream and claw to get one more day for their hot take to be proven right. With any opinion, it is easy to be right and a lot harder to admit you are wrong.
These hot takes and polarized opinions are not inherently bad. They are, in fact, good. They allow us a chance to discuss both sides of the issue. The problem is that a lot of people are not discussing anymore. When our social media surrounds us with people who agree, it distances us from people who do not. Some topics are fundamental and seem pretty non-negotiable, but the others should be discussed from both ‘hot take’ or extreme sides. Then, it becomes much easier to meet in the middle. So maybe Giannis is not the best player in the NBA, but he is not out of the top 25. We can agree on top 10, right?