Man oh man, does it give me douchechills to type that fucking word.
Ok--here's the thing. As you may or may not (you probably are more likely to may) know there was a huge blowout on some Bob Costas special last night between Will Leitch and Buzz "Benry" Bissinger.
As any of you who may know may know, Bissinger threw a hissy fit at Leitch for "ruining America with your rock and roll music and your bloggerations" whilst Braylon Edwards looked on with an eyebrow dazily arched.
The consensus--i.e. what has been taken away from this--is that Bissinger, by virtue of being a moron, is wrong and that Leitch, by virtue of not being the moron in this exchange, is right.
As Lee Corso would say (prior to being excoriated on the BLOGOSPHERE)--not so fast my friends.
Here's the thing: Bissinger is without a doubt unhinged (and also very wrong, as we've seen today at firejoemorgan.blogspot.com, and will no doubt see in greater detail as the blogoverse strikes back at him). But does that make Leitch right?
I want to start by saying that I read Deadspin quite a bit. I find it often hilarious and of a similar mind as me. I have very little problem with Will Leitch (though I can't help but be reminded of former Kids in the Hall geek Dave Foley every time I watch that clip of him and Bissinger). Larry B, it seems, does not like him one bit, but that ain't me.
But here's the thing: many of the problems brought up by Bissinger and by Edwards ARE VALID POINTS. There has been a huge deterioration in the quality of sports journalism--whether it be in print, online, or on television and radio--and it DOES seem to have a lot to do with the internet.
Here's the facts--sports journalism seems to consist of the following things:
1.) reporting of the results of sports contests (about 5% of all stories and television coverage)
2.) interviews, insight, and speculation regarding the players' opinions and reactions about the games, their team, and their league
5.) scandals and lawsuits
6.) predictions and speculation, be it about injuries, results of future sporting events, trades, strikes, scandals and lawsuits, what have you
The problem is, if you watch, read, or listen to sports coverage you'll notice that the vast majority of pundits and analysts, AT THE VERY LEAST take a very authoritarian absolutist position toward these things, particularly items 3-6. There is also a lot of moral grandstanding and finger pointing. Now: these are things that exist as much in the print and television (to say nothing of the cesspool that is Sports Talk Radio) as on the internet--hell, just check out the name of this "blog" to see the prime example of an authoritarian, morally high-handed, always "right", ignorant king of all dirtballs ever to walk the earth.
But here IS the problem--blogging makes this attitude contagious. It would be foolish to point to the advent and proliferation of the yelling/arguing genre of shows on television as coinciding perfectly with the internet. That would be false and anachronous--PTI was already on when I was in high school. However, the blogosphere IS a significant breeding ground for this. It's the perfect environment for sports bleating to fester. Look--opinions are like assholes. But while it does seem silly to hear Michael Wilbon saying "If I don't know your credentials as a sportswriter why should I listen to you?" it does raise a good point.
Even 15 years ago, a sportswriter's opinions superseded your opinions as the casual fan. That didn't mean you just got on your knees and took his thought-juice all over your face. But it did mean that in order for a bleating voice to be heard, it had to have a forum. And though there will still some jackasses morally highhanding the players and fans alike (particularly around time of the 94 strike), it did mean that sportswriters didn't have to be on the offensive all the time--their opinion "mattered" more because they had "the floor".
Now, anyone has the potential to be heard. Obviously, not everyone is going to be Will Leitch or Ken Tremendous or even Larry B, but fact of the matter is, everyone thinks they COULD be and without much effort. Nowadays everyone has an opinion and everyone will be heard. That's not a BAD thing but what it does is turn sportstalk into an argument. Now, that's nothing new PER SE, but it's new that that it is the full extent to how we communicate in the realm of sports.
Were the Bears winners or losers in the draft? Will Indy win the Super Bowl? Is Lebron the next MJ?
These are all questions we might have wondered aloud 15 years ago, given the opportunity, but there wasn't the implication that we NEEDED AN ANSWER NOW nor that I MUST BE RIGHT AT ALL COSTS. The instant access to past statements and statistical data makes discussion in the internet forum a very objective and coldly rational forum--but the item of discussion is not a cold, mechanical object. It is a living thing. Now I don't mean to say "numbers don't play games" but the fact is, anything can happen over the course of a season. If you and I are arguing about who will win the AL Central, you can make the most airtight argument that the Indians are a far better team than the White Sox in every relevant area, but the fact is, the White Sox could very well win. At that point, you lick your wounds with a defensive argument about why that happened.
THAT IS NOT A BAD THING. However, because of the success in this realm, people demand that in other realms (i.e. Television) and what we get is Around the Horn (the most asinine yet infinitely watchable show on at 6:30 ET). Arguments, purported to be founded under the premise of being "RIGHT" about something that one can not be right about. And so, in this "society" of argumentation and absolutism, we also get a meanspiritedness that I enjoy (as long as it's not morally superior meanspiritedness, Jay, you shithead) but that others might take offense at.
Look: Rich Garces has tits. That's funny. But how do you honestly defend making fun of Rich Garces tits to someone who's offended by that? You can't. It's not nice to make fun of Rich Garces tits and it's not something to be proud of if called on. And yet, that's where we're at. And I'm fine with it--but it doesn't mean that those who aren't fine with it are wrong.
Also it's important not to overlook Braylon Edwards's very valid point--athletes can't go out in public anymore. Ever. Not now, not for the rest of their lives (if they're at all noteworthy) for fear of being NeckBearded.
I loved the Neckbeard pictures. I loved the Rexy Morgan pictures. I loved the Peyton's Sweet 16 Pictures. But shit, that's got to suck for those dudes. What can be done about it? Nothing. What should be done about it? Nothing. But here's the thing: it's a problem.
And ESPN is a problem. And Jay Mariotti is a problem. And the fact that the blogosphere has helped to make ESPN and Mariotti who they are is also a problem.
End of rant.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Man oh man, does it give me douchechills to type that fucking word.