Remember to insert witty opening that shows I’m super cool with the kids, and not a 36-year-old man who has no idea what the hell is happening in a modern world that confronts me.
This past weekend was the most confusing sports phenomenon I’ve witnessed, and it made me feel old as hell. While us olds were paying attention to the NBA Playoffs, Euro 2020, College Baseball or UFC, millions were glued to a boxing PPV that pitted famous YouTubers against TikTok stars.
I’ve been staring at this image for 20 minutes. Sifting through the recesses of my brain to determine if I can recognize a single name on this poster. I cannot. That does not mean these people aren’t famous, because they are — it’s just a crushing reality that I am old.
Take that main event, for instance, you have a big headline fight between Austin McBroom and Bryce Hall. McBroom chronicles his family’s life events on YouTube like ... allowing strangers to decide their McDonald’s order, and cutting his toddler’s hair exactly like his. I know this because I just searched “who is Austin McBroom?” Then you have Hall, whose Wikipedia page I need a Rosetta Stone to decode what any of the hell this means.
“He is also a member of the Sway House located in Los Angeles.
Hall accused Petrou of stealing money from members of the Hype House and spending money irresponsibly.”
Hall also seems like a really great human (excuse my sarcasm), who was arrested for violating Los Angeles’ restrictions on Covid and having a house party, mocking the LGBTQ community, then deleting his tweets, and being accused of assaulting a restaurant employee. The lawsuit alleges he participated in “engaging in acts of violence motivated by race, national origin, citizenship, immigration status and primary language.”
So yeah. I guess being old and not knowing these people has it’s perks sometimes.
While you or I don’t care about any of this, damn a lot of youngs really, really do
There’s an entire generation that doesn’t care or identify with actors, musicians or artists, and instead puts all their stock in social media personalities. Why? I don’t really know. Like, I watch YouTube, there are tons of people I follow. I don’t have an explicit need to watch them fight each other, but the hustle is real.
This kind of influencer media is the next step in reality TV, just further divorced from reality. Everyone is trying to find content to publish, and if you’re a purveyor of the high-energy stylized “reality” of these stars, then you’ll buy into whatever they’re selling. I mean, that video of a toddler getting his haircut has 2.6 million views. People eat this stuff up — so pretending there’s beef between two influencers and fighting creates a ton of interest, and content to go along with it.
We might never know the number of buys an event like this created, but if you logged on Twitter Saturday night you probably saw how nuts it was. For the majority of the night these fights out-trended every other sporting event they were in competition with.
Here are the results, if you care.
- Austin McBroom def. Bryce Hall
- AnEsonGib vs. Tayler Holder ended in majority draw
- Vinnie Hacker def. Deji
- DDG def. Nate Wyatt
- Faze Jarvis def. Michael Le
- Landon McBroom def. Ben Azelart
- Ryan Johnston def. Cale Saurage
Celebrity boxing isn’t going anywhere
Logan Paul and KSI proved the concept, now everyone is jumping on board. Taking internet beef and porting it over to a real-world fight pushes tribalism to a whole new level. Instead of being fans of teams, people are being fans of influencers — and will eat up everything they participate in.
While the YouTubers and TikTokers were duking it out, former NBA star Lamar Odom was stepping in the ring with singer Aaron Carter, and beating him half to death. It was a very weird night.
The biggest question isn’t whether this works, it’s whether these kind of fights represent an existential threat to traditional combat sports. It’s not like those sports will vanish overnight, it’s about whether this new generation will ever care about fighters who aren’t social media celebrities. Perhaps many of them would never tune into other combat sports anyway, but it certainly cuts off any potential interest. Why bother following boxing or MMA intently, learning about their stars, when you can just wait for the latest YouTuber to throw on some gloves and beat up someone you already know, and watch on a regular basis.
There’s a lot of money to be made in the short term, but will that still be around when influencers move onto the next thing? That remains to be seen.
Should I start following all this?
No. Unless you already have an affinity for a YouTuber or TikToker so strong you’re invested in them enough to watch a sloppy, terrible boxing match solely because they’re in it. This really feels like a sporting phenomenon made for Gen Z, and they should be allowed to enjoy their things without olds ruining it.
People like me tuning in is the equivalent of buying a red Mazda Miata and driving it with the top down while wearing a linen shirt at the first sight of a grey hair. It’s just kinda sad.
I’m also not going to pretend this is a real, compelling, actual sport when it definitively isn’t. It’s a sloppy facsimile of actual sport, with untrained individuals playing dress up for a night. We also don’t need people my age pretending it’s just to try and get those sweet, sweet Gen Z clicks. We can accept time has passed us by, as we begin the long march towards our oblivion.
If you’re into YouTubers fighting TikTokers, enjoy it. I hope events like this bring you joy. I don’t get it, and I’m okay not getting it.