ChatGPT writes a "gamer" for the Kings-Warriors NBA matchup
The Artificial Intelligence tool is impressive but isn't fooling any sports statheads at this point
If you haven’t heard of ChatGPT at this point you probably aren’t perusing the internet all day like I am.
Many people are worried that Artificial Intelligence is coming for their jobs. And one of the primary candidates, among others, is the sports beat reporter.
Traditionally these reporters follow their local teams and, well, report on what happened in the team’s latest games, as well as provide behind the scenes profiles of players, break stories and provide color around the latest happenings inside the club. They do this by virtue of spending a considerable amount of time around the players and staff in and outside of the locker rooms.
One part of a beat writer’s job that seems increasingly unnecessary with the rise of AI tools is in writing the “gamer.”
In sports journalism the term “gamer” is a euphemism for a reporter’s game recap that you would typically see in tomorrow’s newspaper. It’s a relic of the times where sports news wasn’t broken within seconds on Twitter and helped describe what happened in a particular game or set of games to audiences who didn’t watch live or have hours of highlight reels available to them at their fingertips
To get a sense of where we are today with these generative AI tools, I prompted ChatGPT to write a series recap of the Kings-Warriors first round matchup in the NBA playoffs with the following: “Write a 300 word summary of the Golden State Warriors-Sacramento Kings recent series in the NBA in the style of a reputable journalistic source such as the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight.com, or The Athletic.”
In a captivating first-round series of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the Golden State Warriors clashed with their in-state adversaries, the Sacramento Kings, offering basketball enthusiasts a fierce, competitive spectacle that exceeded expectations. Entering the series as considerable favorites, the Warriors leaned heavily on their perennial superstar guard, Stephen Curry. Undeterred by intermittent injury concerns, Curry maintained his status as an offensive juggernaut, averaging an outstanding 30.6 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game. Alongside Curry, Klay Thompson continued to display his scoring prowess, posting an average of 21.4 points per game, a testament to his resurgence following a series of injuries. The underdog Kings, however, proved themselves a formidable opponent, led by the dynamic De'Aaron Fox, who contributed an average of 24.8 points and 7.3 assists per game. Complemented by the sharpshooting Buddy Hield and versatile big man Marvin Bagley III, the Kings displayed a tenacious spirit and a commitment to stifling defense, especially in the paint. The evenly matched series culminated in a suspenseful Game 7, with neither team willing to concede defeat. Ultimately, the Warriors emerged victorious with a 115-109 win, propelled by Curry's scintillating 38-point performance, punctuated by a crucial three-pointer in the game's closing moments. Throughout the series, both teams demonstrated a high level of sportsmanship, with the rivalry fostering an electric atmosphere within the arenas. Despite their loss, the Kings' commendable performance signaled the team's potential for growth in the coming years. For the Warriors, the triumph reinforced their status as genuine championship contenders, with Curry and Thompson proving they can still steer their team to success. In summary, the Golden State Warriors-Sacramento Kings first-round playoff series provided a gripping showcase of NBA talent and competitiveness. The Warriors' star power and resilience ultimately triumphed, while the Kings' spirited performance served as a harbinger of their future potential. This unforgettable series will be remembered not only for the dramatic conclusion but also for the high level of play that captivated basketball fans throughout its duration.
While overall it sounds plausible, ChapGPT got some of the details wrong. For example: Marvin Bagley III plays for the Detroit Pistons and Buddy Hield plays for the Pacers. And the stats it quoted seem completely made up — Stephen Curry had a record 50-point game in Game 7, not 38.
In addition, the whole response feels formulaic and doesn’t flow like you’d expect from a reporter who knows the teams inside and out. What sports journalist worth their chops would write: “Throughout the series, both teams demonstrated a high level of sportsmanship...?” It sounds like a high school journalism student who is trying to reach a word limit wrote some of the sentences.
I went on to ask it why it got some of the details wrong:
You are correct that my knowledge is limited to September 2021, and I apologize for the confusion in my previous responses. I am an AI language model designed to generate creative, informative, and relevant responses to user queries. In this instance, I generated a fictional account of a playoff series between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in 2023, based on your request. My intent was to provide you with an engaging narrative, rather than historical accuracy. I apologize if this caused any confusion or misunderstanding.
When probed ChatGPT admits it made up the stats and its intent was “to provide you with an engaging narrative, rather than historical accuracy.”
For now I won’t be reading my gamers from ChapGPT. But give it a little more time (months,? weeks?), and access to real-time information and sportswriters may have to actually start worrying about it doing their jobs.
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I prefer to get my sports news from reputable outlets like the ones I mentioned in the prompt above. But, unfortunately, FiveThirtyEight recently had to lay off some of its best writers as parent company Disney tightens its belt. I’m curious to know where Nate Silver — the founder of FiveThirtyEight — and his data journalism brand land because that will instantly become another source of information for me. RIP to the good old days of sports journalism (the early 2010s) when we had outlets like Grantland, OG Deadspin, ESPN the Magazine and OG FiveThirtyEight.