Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to TMZ Sports. Yes you read that correctly. TMZ now has a section of their website completely dedicated to athletes and their nightclub antics. Same grainy pictures, same cell phone videos, same flashy headlines - but entirely focused on the world of the professional athlete.
Cody told me about this the other night but I didn't realize it had actually been launched. The more I think about it and check out the site though, the more I think it's a pretty genius idea.
Is there really a difference anymore between athlete and celebrity? Nope. The lines have been blurred for ages. From dating and marriages to their own scandals completely independent of the celebrity world, athletes have become pop stars themselves. Athletes launch clothing lines, they have their own reality shows, they grace the covers of every gossip magazine and website there is. The only real difference between athletes and celebrities anymore is their jobs. That's it.
Let's start with the relationships. Tom and Gisele, Tony and Eva, David Beckham and Victoria Spice (my dad calls her that and I've never been able to drop it). Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo. Carrie Underwood and the hockey player she's marrying. Hilary Duff is apparently also marrying a hockey player. Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush... shoot now apparently Kim Kardashian and Cristiano Ronaldo. The not-so-cute Kardashian and Lamar Odom. I mean the list goes on and on. These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. These couples are everywhere. But it makes perfect sense when you think about the social circles that most of them are privileged enough to be a part of. Everyone knows everyone in the business of being a celebrity and a couple of text messages later, Tom Brady gets to meet Gisele.
I think it stretches moreso than just between the actual athletes and celebs though. They all have PR agents and assistants who know each other's PR agents and assistants. So again, it doesn't take much for a connection to be made.
Next, the scandals. The predicaments that these athletes get themselves into is Grade A Perez Hilton material and I, for one, can't get enough. Sex therapy? Sending your 6-year-old to give your ex-wife's new boyfriend a death threat? Well done Tiger and Shaq. Arrests, weapon charges, suspensions - they've got their own little soap opera going on and none of it has to do with a botched reception or poor clock management.
Although I'm sure 99.99999% of athletes who might find themselves on the pages of TMZ's newest site cringe at the sight of themselves, overall I feel it's safe to say that athletes are fully embracing their new celeb status and are even putting themselves out there even more. Would you ever have thought to see a wide receiver competing for a trophy shaped like a disco ball or tune in to watch cameras follow a football player's life with his Playmate wife and their newborn son? I feel like about 10 years ago, you didn't see this stuff.
Everyone wants to be out there. Everyone wants to stay current and relevant and in the spotlight so why not join ridiculous ballroom competition TV shows or create a clothing line? Whatever keeps your name out there right? The short-lived "Shaq Vs." TV show that aired last summer featured nothing but professional athletes in a weird, gimmicky game show where Shaq competed against them in their own sport. Do you think the Olympians and quarterbacks from when our parents were our age would have ever thought to do stuff like this?
Like I said before, there just isn't really a difference anymore between an athlete and a celebrity, except for the job title. Kim Kardashian "acts", Reggie Bush catches a football. But at the end of the day, neither one can walk down the street without 100 cameras in their faces and get exclusive access to the best restaurants and hotels in the world.
They've become one and the same. So thanks TMZ for putting them all in one place. You can bet you'll be getting some page hits from Sac-town.