I never really got to throw in my two cents on the Buzz Bissinger – Will Leitch tiff in front of Costas Now a couple of months ago, but suffice to say that I find it incredulous that the political side of the mainstream media accepted the relevance of blogs years ago in politics, where people discuss the war, economy, social issues, and other items that actually have a direct impact on people’s lives, yet the sports side of the MSM seems to believe that stories such as the around-the-clock Favre watch and the linguistic artistry of Ozzie Guillen are so serious that blogs add nothing to the national discourse. While Wolf Blitzer and George Stephanopolous have no problem dropping tidbits from political blogs with respect to the election of the next leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, mainstream sportswriters and talk show hosts largely foam at the mouth when they are asked about Deadspin, Kissing Suzy Kolber, and other prominent sports blogs. Not only is this ridiculous, but it turns the whole notion of sports on its head – the reason why I love sports is that it’s a world where we can have so much passion about something that, at the end of the day, isn’t really going to effect whether we are going to be able to find jobs, take care of our kids, or the other things that matter in life. There are certainly serious sides to sports and I have long appreciated in-depth sportswriting, such as Bissinger’s own Friday Night Lights, yet that doesn’t detract from the fact that sports also has a side that’s primed to be ridiculed. Just as plenty of people equally enjoy spending their Sunday afternoons poring through the New York Times and The Economist while enjoying The Daily Show and The Colbert Report during the week, sports fans are savvy enough to read hard-hitting journalism that takes a look at the disproportionate weight of attention that athletics receive in Texas high schools as well as checking out the photos from the latest Kyle Orton weekend bender.
With all of this as a background, it was refreshing to hear Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein from WSCR The Score in Chicago (one of the few sports radio shows that I still listen to on a regular basis – they are the antithesis of the Mike North/Jim Rome-style bloviating that sports radio stations push all too often) not only argued that blogs such as Deadspin provide value to the sports media world since they are truly independent from the powers that be, but also gave praise the commenters on Deadspin in saying that they are just as funny, if not more so, than the blog posts themselves!
Here’s a link to the relevant segment of the show (the first few minutes of the stream). They start out with a discussion on the journalistic independence of the NFL Network, segue into talking about Buzz Bissinger’s rant, and then make their remarks about Deadspin and its commenters. As someone that remembers the days when it would take about 20 minutes to log in a comment on the punch card-based Gawker servers, it was heartening to see a couple of radio hosts that I truly respect actually say that they enjoy the comments, which in my opinion really drive Deadspin. I doubt that anything to this effect will ever be uttered on the air on SportsCenter any time soon, but it’s nice to know that there are a few rational people in the mainstream media out there.
(Image from The Sports Hernia)