"I am more than an athlete"
This is the hashtag, catchphrase, and slogan of UNINTERRUPTED, a digital media platform founded by Lebron James and his longtime business manager and childhood friend Maverick Carter. It is an interesting phrase that attempts to remind consumers that the players of their favorite sports teams are more complex and multi-dimensional than the traditional sports narrative might suggest.
It is in stark contrast to the "gamer identity" that often rallies around a central hobby turning into a variable lifestyle. You won't often hear the phrase "I am more than a gamer" because, in 2018, the embrace of the title is just now becoming one of empowerment and mainstream normalcy. Professional athletes may very well feel the burden of being reduced to an icon of the sport they play (perhaps Lebron Jame's is personally affected by this), but to an aspiring professional gamer, this problem is, quite literally, their goal.
UNINTERUPPTED's recent partnership with the seemingly omnipresent Fortnite player Ninja is a clear indicator that modern athletes are a different breed of competitor. They play Fortnite, they probably watch Twitch, and UNINTERRUPTED is letting the world know they even might take competitive gaming seriously.
In videos shared on Twitter, young athletes from professional soccer, basketball, and tennis attended a streaming event hosted by Ninja. All somewhere in their mid to early 20's, if it wasn't for the reality of their athletic fame, you would assume the event was just a bunch of gamers (with unusually expensive shoes) playing Fortnite together.
In this setting, UNINTERRUPTED labels Ninja as "The G.O.A.T". Unlike the constant debated G.O.A.T's of NBA or NFL, the label is easily given Ninja. After all, he really has no other competition when it comes to his greatest of all time status regarding a game released only a year ago and it likely helps underscore Ninja's popularity to a viewership that is predominantly comprised of traditional sports fans.
During the event, Ninja offered UNINTERRUPTED camera's the basics of how to get better at Fortnite. Spoiler alert: it's how you get better at every esport -- learn from losses, watch your replays, and don't blame your teammates.
You won't find cutting-edge Fortnite strategies from UNINTERRUPTED, but then again that isn't the point when you introduce the most famous streamer in the world to a room of professional athletes. From the looks of it, the goal is to dissolve tired notions of gaming nerds hating sports and athletes belittling pro-gaming.
Ninja is a busy guy, but I'm glad he is spending some of that time forging new connections between the gaming world and popular culture. This whole "Ninja-as-the-face-of-modern-gaming" thing started with Drake and if you asked me then if it would eventually lead to Ninja posting Fortnite tips on Lebron Jame's digital media platform, I wouldn't have believed you.
But here I am, taking the L.
Yeah, just like that.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.