Yesterday, I wrote about what I see as the origin story of the Odell Beckham Jr. Boat Story Hot Take, and how (to me) it is rooted in the ideas of the Sport Ethic.
That’s a funny phrase, isn’t it? “Hot Take.” It’s common in the sports world — to the point where 538’s sometimes excellent and sometimes maddening sports podcast is called “Hot Takedown.” The implicit idea we all have is that Hot Takes are bad and should be avoided.
But what, exactly, is a hot take?
It’s a phrase that’s evolved into shorthand for expression disapproval for someone’s opinion. If I say “I liked Rogue One better than Return of the Jedi” or “The Bills should get rid of Tyrod Taylor” and you disagree with me, you can respond by calling my opinion a “hot take” and that effectively shuts down the conversation. Which is crazy.
So what is a Hot Take? Last year, I asked my Twitter followers for a definition before one of my sportswriting classes.
The general consensus is that a hot take includes two elements:
- A lack of reporting or research. It’s the classic spouting off an opinion without backing it up with research, stats, or facts. One phrase that several people use in the Storify above is “knee-jerk” and that feels right.
- There’s an element of combativeness to it. It’s not just an opinion, nor is it merely an opinion without facts. A Hot Take is when someone states their opinion as fact. A Hot Take is where someone is being willfully obtuse or combative or contrary for the sake of it. It’s the classic sports columnist trope I despise: “You may love him, you may hate him, but you’ll have a reaction,” as if inciting a reaction is the only worthwhile goal of sports commentary.
This is a definition that will evolve. I’m interested in examining the roots of Hot Takes and Hot Take Culture here.
And I’d love to hear from you. Let’s take this conversation to Facebook: What am I missing from my Hot Take definition?