The Miracle Basketball Video and Why Facebook Made it Popular

Since this weekend, I’ve seen over a dozen Facebook friends share the same video of a high school basketball team manager in New York (who had never gotten to play before) who has autism who was put into a game and hit six 3-point shots.

Through Facebook, people marvel at the accomplishment. They call it “Inspiring” and say that it “brings tears to your eyes.” It’s called “a feel good news story.”

But there’s something people are missing. It’s old, old, old news. This game was played in 2006. And it was big news at the time. It was all over network and cable television. That performance even received an ESPY Award from ESPN for being the greatest sports moment of the year that year. 2006.

-By the way, we now have a black president in this country in case you may have missed that story too.-

Why has this basketball performance suddenly been resurrected on social media?

There are a couple of unique changes that Facebook has made over the past several weeks which have allowed for this to happen

When something online – like a video or a picture – gets shared by lots of people, the material is referred to as “viral” because it has spread rapidly (like a virus). Things go viral all the time. But this is the first time that I’ve ever seen something go viral online which has already been a part of popular culture.

Facebook has a new feature. When multiple people comment about the same thing, it will group the comments. So a week ago, if eight of your friends were all talking about Halloween, Facebook would group all of the comments on your Newsfeed so that you could more easily see what different people were saying about the same subject, event, or video.

Perhaps you’ve noticed this change.

With the basketball video, since lots of people are sharing the video, it becomes more prominent on the Newsfeed. This perpetuates the video and makes it all the more unavoidable.

Facebook has also made it easier to share. Now when you click on content, there is a Share button, and you are a click away from posting the same content onto your wall or a friend’s wall.

I think these two factors, coupled with statuses that talk about the video as if it just happened allowed for the phenomenon to occur.

This is something we could start seeing more often as a result of these changes on Facebook. Old news becoming new news. Something creates a buzz, it’s easier to share, and so it gets rereported by people who didn’t hear about it when it actually happened.

I don’t think that this could have happened a few weeks ago.

As a final thought on the story itself: isn’t it offensive to people who have autism to treat a kid who had one good basketball game like he’s a hero?

How many kids score 20 points in a high school basketball game every year? Several thousand?

He’s a normal guy and to elevate it because he has autism I think shows a lack of expectations. It’s not like he was blind! He’s a normal person.

Also, if this story is so inspiring, let me ask this: why? Why is it inspiring? What’s the moral of the story?

Dreams can come true? Really? A kid scores 20 points in a basketball game and we’re going to elevate it to the greatest accomplishment of his entire life? For his sake, I hope a basketball game where he knocks down a few shots isn’t his seminal achievement.

Later on, it came out that the opposing team had been told that an autistic team manager who had never played before was going to get into the game. When the young man was put in, his high school was already far ahead of an inferior opponent. The other team was told to give him space on his shots.