Long before “fake news” was regarded as a widespread issue in the US, NFL fans have been savvy to it for years. They’ve known to be extra vigilant at certain times of the year, specifically, the month of April. We know all too well, the closer the Dallas Cowboys move towards draft day, the more scrutiny the daily news feed demands.
Smoke screens and speculation take the form of actual news regularly. And nameless sources often lead fans down a rabbit hole of misdirection and sometimes even slander. Tis the season for media literacy, Cowboys Nation.
Dallas Cowboys fans should remain hypervigilant this time of year.
Talk of possible off-the-field transgressions by one of the Dallas Cowboys most promising young starters has caught fire on social media. Dallas Cowboys fans are buzzing about the possible repercussions. But one only needs to do a quick google search to see there just aren’t any supportive claims.
It’s that very reason I’m not going to even use that player’s name. It’s a single source accusation that can only gain traction if the media and fans allow it.
We’re seeing more “reports” about players the Dallas Cowboys are targeting in the draft. We see so-called insiders exposing leaks and strategies almost daily now. It’s par for the course less than two weeks from the draft.
This is all where media literacy comes into play. Vetting and scrutinizing unofficial reports has never been more valuable. We all want to be up-to-date on the Dallas Cowboys, and heck, some of this could actually be true. But as we know from past years, most of it isn’t.
Speculating on trades and targets in the draft is one thing. But when we move into rumors regarding a player’s behavior or character, we start walking on dangerous ground. We saw this all go down last week when a very high profile NFL player was accused of violent assault. Turns out, he was innocent of it, but not before his name and reputation where dragged through the mud.
Just another day in the NFL Rumor Mill, some will say. But it doesn’t have to be.
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I’m not saying all rumors must be double-verified before we even mention their existence, but I am saying we should collectively pump the brakes on spreading unverified (mis)information that could slander the name and reputation of someone. The liar rarely causes the most damage, it’s the people who believe and spread the lie that bring down the house.
If we hear rumors of the Cowboys trading down to get picks, or trading back into the first round to target more elite players – I’m going to be talking about it incessantly, and probably even penning a dozen articles about it. As long as I’m not selling it as a “fact”, it can be fun, educational, and thought provoking.
But even that requires media literacy and a certain amount of skepticism from the consumer. Things can make sense and be false at the same time.
Headlines and hot takes bring attention, and to some people, all attention is good. We don’t have to be those people.
This is a fun time of year for Dallas Cowboys fans. Often times, it’s the most fun time of year. But we have to look at everything with skepticism because there are smokescreens, rumors, and flat-out lies popping up everywhere.