Athlete autographs obsolete as social media brings fans closer than ever

Joe Frye, IV Leader Sports Columnist

When I say overrated in sports, what do you think of? Alex Rodriguez? Boston Red Sox? Dallas Cowboys? Those are spot on guesses, but no. The most overrated thing in sports today is an autograph.
When I was a young sports fan, I would always beg my parents to take me to the game early so maybe we could catch a glimpse of the Chicago Cubs players before they took the field. I would bring my mitt, a ball, and a permanent marker just in case Todd Hollandsworth was feeling generous and decided to sign my baseball.
I, for years, would fascinate over a famous baseball player’s signature. But after one faithful day, I had a realization on why autographs are simply overrated. During my junior year of high school, I had the chance to take a vacation to sunny Florida with a friend and his parents.
It was spring break so we really just wanted to run around and find cute girls. I vividly remember walking down a boardwalk and spotting out this extremely tall man — seven feet tall, huge muscles, even bigger feet. I quickly put two and two together and couldn’t believe New Jersey Nets center and NBA veteran Brook Lopez was 12 feet away from me. I had to get an autograph.
Besides the golden tan I would soon receive, I believed this would be the greatest gift of my vacation. It was strange because I figured Lopez would be swarmed by fans and greeted by people with cameras. But he was all alone, so after buying a $5 pen and finding an old ticket stub, I played it cool and approached Mr. Lopez with all the confidence in the world.
I greeted him with a “Hey, Brook , could I get your autograph?” Let me go by saying he was not busy, the man was standing with a friend and joking around. So after my brief question, Lopez rolled his eyes, grabbed my ticket stub and proceeded to draw three circles on top of each other.
It reminded me of something you would draw to make sure your pen is not out of ink. I thanked him and walked away making sure not to show my true emotions. When I saw the signature I was appalled, I could not believe this guy couldn’t take three seconds out of his day to write down his name.
So when I returned home I threw it away, and have been disgusted ever since. After thinking about this, I firmly realized that autographs are overrated.
First off, I could sign a baseball as Sammy Sosa and proceed to tell everyone I got an autograph and no one would ever know.
Also, with technology today it seems fans would much rather get a retweet, follow, or reply on Twitter from a famous athlete rather than actually talk to them. And don’t forget the coolest accomplishment with an athlete, taking a picture with them. I mean, if I ever saw Mike Fontenot or Matt Murton in public, I would most certainly take a picture with them, and that would be my profile picture forever.
Now I do not want to take away the fact an autograph can have a lot of sentimental value: I have an autographed baseball from Ron Santo that I will forever keep. Autographs from deceased people are even more special in value.
But are autographs really so important fans would go to great lengths to get them? Such as, would you have someone autograph your arm and then make that autograph a tattoo, or even have an athlete sign your newborn baby?
I do not see what all the fuss is about. I will stick to tweeting my favorite players and hoping one day I will run into one at a restaurant or on an airplane. So fans, please, put the Sharpies away.