Yesterday was quite a day in the blogosphere. Monday night, Will Leitch of Deadspin, King of the Bloggers!, appeared on Bob Costas NOW, which oddly enough included very little about modern feminism. The town hall panel consisted of Costas, NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards, Leitch, and, author of Friday Night Lights, H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger. I have actually read one of Bissinger’s books, the well-written, but intellectually disengenuous "3 Nights In August." Bissinger basically took a "Hey you kids, get off my lawn" approach to blogging. He went bonkers! Watch it for yourself. Video of this ambush is available here.
Much discussion has taken place about this. We here at the California Golden Blogs don’t want to be left behind. We have opinions, too! Lots of opinions. Marshawn is God. Nate is dreamy. Soylent green is made out of bloggers! We got in a bit discussion and decided to turn it into a roundtabe.
TwistNHook: I really appreciate Bissinger’s honesty. He just laid it all out there. "Leitch, what *is* your mother’s basement like?" But he’s not alone in this. A lot has been made recently about uninformed bloggers slowly killing credentialed sports writers. Hell, even this site has been on the bludgeon end of the "bloggers are clueless fools!" stick not too far back.
Yellow Fever: Bissinger isn’t the only person who hates blogs. Marc Cuban, owner of the Mavs, attempted to block bloggers from the locker-room in Dallas. Then, the NBA forced him to relent. Marc Cuban got all pissy. Here’s what he had to say:
"What sports blogging has become, in most cases, is the internet equivalent of Talk Soup or VH1’s "Best ….. " series. On Talk Soup a host throws out witty comments about some TV show. On VH1, a series of guests throw out their comments about some video relevant to the show’s topic. If it is witty enough, the show draws an audience.
On the net, the most popular sports bloggers do the exact same thing. They troll the net looking for other people’s work and then throw out some witty comments or a simple rant to complement a link to that work.. Or they sit in front of the TV and throw out posts/comments about the game."Ragnarok: Cuban’s view of blogging seems to stem mostly from his interactions with Deadspin’s Will Leitch, which have not been positive. And, to be honest, his views on blogging, when seen through the Deadspin prism, seem right on. Deadspin is not the place you go for in-depth analysis of, well, really anything. It’s a fast paced smorgasbord of hilarious links and potentially libellous comments. As a excited participant in many Yahoo! Fantasy Libel leagues, I love Deadspin.
CBKWit: Look, we love to be as hilarious and libellous as anybody else. But Marc Cuban is wrong if he thinks all bloggers are like Deadspin. There are legions of dedicated bloggers (and even vloggers!) all across the blogosphere that, in this humble bloggers’ opinion, are doing better work than credentialed sports writers. I’m talking about the people like Lookout Landing and Athletics Nation. They go deeper into the game than I’ve ever seen, showcasing an unrivalled level of passion for their teams. It is about the democratization of information!
TwistNHook: It used to be that sports writers were the undisputed kings of the land. People didn’t have the basic level of access to the games they do now. Television didn’t exist or was in its infancy. Games were on in the middle of the day when people were at work. If the game was on the West Coast, you’d get results two days later! And people wore an onion on their belt. It was the style of the time!
Maybe you’d get a box score and a basic write up of what took place. But the sports writers were there. They were watching all the games. They were riding the trains. The box score said Player X went 0-4, but why? Were they 4 hard hit balls that happened to find glove? Were they 4 brutal strike outs? Was the player slightly injured? Did the player have a mechanical problem? Sports writers were the only means for regular fans to get deeper into the game like that.
HydroTech: It’s not nineteen fifty perfect anymore (I have to say perfect, because the Kaiser stole our word for two). Grass isn’t as comfortable as it once was. And you can’t get 5 bees for a quarter. Now, independent of the newspaper, fans get nearly unlimited access to the game. You can watch any game you want at any time on your choice of medium. Why listen to what Ray Ratto has to say about the game when you can listen to people who follow the team’s every breath? Ray Ratto has to follow a dozen sports teams as well as possible. AthleticsNation doesn’t care about the Sharks, the Sabrecats, the Niners, the Raiders, the Warriors, Cal, Stanford, and the Giants. All they care about is the A’s. Who can give you a fuller picture as to the successes and failures of the A’s than that?
As things have progressed, we’re seeing the last throes of the sports-writer insurgency.
"You’re either with America or with Bill Plaschke"
YellowFever: FireJoeMorgan chronicles these throes hilariously within the baseball context. But it’s not just the never-ending wet T-Shirt contest between Billy Beane and Joe Morgan. Sports writers from Rick Reilly to Bob Costas have been pulling out the good old mama’s basement line.
Ragnarok: Right. But whose opinion would you trust between Ray Ratto and any any old blogger out there? or Ray Ratto and some blogger who just started a couple weeks ago? (Maybe Ray Ratto is a poor choice for a comparison here…)
CBKWit: Mainstream media’s problem with blogs is that, suddenly, rank amateurs are appearing in the same format as newspaper professionals, appearing alongside them on the internet, thus dragging down the level of discourse and their reputations in the process. This, of course, presupposes that people are idiots who have no ability to discern quality or credibility between websites, which, in most cases, is absolutely false (and rather insulting). This sort of argument would be akin to saying that people can’t tell the difference between things written in the New York Times and things written in the Penny Saver. Or perhaps a poorly photocopied rant that the mailman wrote during his spare time and decided to deliver with the Penny Saver.
TwistNHook: My favorite part of Bissinger’s rant was when he started talking about his son. How he fears his son will be reading blogs. Like he’s going to walk in on his son reading Burnt Orange Nation and scream "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN PORN????"
HydroTech: Are we really going to end this on a porn joke?
TwistNHook: I can’t see why not?