Commence The Blogger Circular Firing Squad

A curious thing happened to my RSS reader in the past couple of days: there was this article in the L.A. Times on Sunday that basically was the same old “us v. them” narrative about the mainstream media and sports blogging, and it made me yawn, because it was stoking the fires of the whole Buzz Bissinger vs. Will Leitch mess from Costas Now awhile back and I simply found it boring and innocuous enough. This is probably because I have very little professional investment in any “movement.”

I must have missed something. because the quotes provided by The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre in the piece have managed to piss off Leitch, who wondered why McIntyre (or anyone else) would admit to changing based on Bissinger’s ranting. Following suit are Matt Ufford of KSK/With Leather and the eponymous Dan Shanoff. Will’s missive is now getting blowback from SML over at Sports on my Mind and Dave Lozo.

Frankly, it’s starting to make me a bit ill after reading all of it. So, McIntyre speaking for the blog world is a problem with a bad quote, but Leitch’s poor defense of blogging during Bissinger’s spittle was any better? For most of the media, Will Leitch is still the face of sports blogging and not too many have made forceful and loud objections about that (I’m thinking SOMM and Can’t Stop The Bleeding are the obvious exceptions.)

Look, the quote itself by McIntyre isn’t good: what proof do he or PFT’s Mike Florio have that there was this massive self-assessment post-Bissinger? I don’t see it. I think the medium was always fluctuating, well before Bissinger spewed — because page views and outside factors changed; people got book deals, decided to not use pseudonyms, got offers to get paid for their work, etc.  Deadspin brought back A.J. Daulerio and has a ton of outside contributors now, and Leitch wrote a book (which, in full disclosure, I helped review for the site) and toured for it.

I totally agree with Leitch on this part: do it because it’s fun. So, with that in mind, try not to listen or read the BS articles and tripe pushed by media forces who probably don’t get it, and don’t get so upset about it. I’m not quite sure why everyone presumes McIntyre thinks he’s speaking for everyone now, and it’s not like a lot of the same people criticizing him now had as sizable a problem with Leitch being the one to speak for the medium. (Please see Shanoff’s endorsement of Leitch to replace Rick Reilly on the back page of Sports Illustrated.)

I’ve said before that Bissinger had a salient point: he undermined it with his language and anger.  But why can’t writers alter how they do things to be more professional, to have more confidence in what they stand behind and write?  Anyone advocating the essential position “don’t change what you do because of the loudmouths” has a point, but what if those loudmouths happen to have one of their own?

In a 24-7 cycle for both mainstream news and blogs, sometimes both mediums ape the worst of the other: feeding off the cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel stories and instant speculation. This leads to the perpetuation of established media narratives on every platform (favoring management and teams over players, presuming the arrested athlete is guilty until proven innocent, etc.)  Very, very few of the sports blogs that are popular are immune to this.  Maybe some sort of self-examination of what you post and why you do it isn’t such a bad thing.

As usual, when this sort of thing happens, the real truth is probably somewhere between the sides taken on this.

Full Of Sound And Fury, Signifying Everything

(Video via Awful Announcing.)

Everyone’s up in arms today over last night’s Costas Now, in which Will Leitch basically fended off H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger and Bob Costas as they ranted about blogging’s abusive tone and profane writing.  Bissinger’s particular diatribe reeks of a noxious sort of desperation, one that a writer of his talent should never have had to feel so insecure as to express on television.

Blogs are basically a means of open expression, whether used for journalism, comedy, or opinion, and this applies to the sports world.  I am mystified by folks like Bissinger, Costas, and MIchael Wilbon, who seem to be threatened by the medium, considering it part of the downfall of society (how amusing is this hyperbole when it rolls around every decade or so from a generation that cannot stand to see a loss in power, anywhere?) when, by all accounts, the methods and medium of journalism will change dramatically in the upcoming decades, but quality writers and journalists will always be in demand.  This misconception of blogs seeking to “replace” the mainstream media in any form is absolutely ludicrous and really ought to be nipped in the bud.

I can only speak for myself now — as this particular blog is little more than a means to express opinion based on what I watch on TV.  No, my opinion isn’t any more valid than the beat reporter or columnist; I’m a 25-year old liberal arts major whose only print journalism/sportswriting experience is a stint on the high school newspaper.  That’s not why I write about sports or participate in discussions about them online. I don’t think my opinion is any more or less valid than yours. I do it because it’s fun, and it’s part of the interaction of being a fan. Do I (and others) get profane? Yes, although I make an effort to avoid abusive.

The irony of Bissinger’s missive and Costas’ ploy to paint the Internet as a massive repository for the basest impulses of people online is that there are oh so many folks, in print and on your television on a regular basis, who have the capacity and have been more abusive and profane towards athletes than any blogger ever could — and with a significantly larger audience than Deadspin could attract on even its best stats day.  Skip Bayless, Mike Lupica, Mitch Albom (how ironic is it to have the sports world’s Jayson Blair lecture about the ethics of sports journalism on TV; it’s as if everyone forgot he faked a column), Bill Conlin (some pleasant language used towards sabermetric-loving folks), Wallace Matthews (Mr. “15 is the new 30” in trying to brush off Clemens-McCready), and damn near every columnist, commentator, and pundit who gives credence to Roger Clemens yet would not dare give Barry Bonds the benefit of the doubt.

Also include Leonard Shapiro and the talk radio blowhards who gave two cents to the concept that Sean Taylor’s past off-the-field troubles had something to do with his death last year, when he really was protecting his family. Jason Whitlock’s entire oeuvre about the Black KKK, his double-speak and hypocrisy about hip-hop and the misogyny and violence in rap affecting athletes deserves special mention.

Add in every columnist who employs a mindset that allows him or her to slap a thug label on the majority of the NBA because players have tattoos and some even dare to have cornrows or dreadlocks, and who blanches at every incident of violence on the court as a sign that the league as a whole is out of control.

If you don’t mind me saying so, that’s a fuck of a lot of profanity and abuse heaped on by those supposed guardians of the Right Way of doing things.  Glass houses, stones, throwing….right, you know the deal.

Takes on the program: Both Will and AJ from Deadspin, Orson at EDSBS, Brian at Awful Announcing, D-Wil at Sports on My Mind (who agrees with Bissinger), FJM’s Ken Tremendous, The FanHouse’s Michael David Smith, and BDD at KSK (yes, vulgar and profane).