Following last week’s nationally televised evisceration of Will Leitch in particular and the entire sporting blogosphere in general, author Buzz Bissinger granted an audience to The Big Lead and confessed, “I have learned from this whole mess is the danger of making sweeping generalizations.”
When I came home from New York, my wife simply told me that I had been over the top and undignified. Then I started reading emails sent to me. The majority were predictably vindictive ” dickhead, horsefucker, douchebag, windbag, ugly, stupid, etc. But what struck me far more is that many of the emails were smart, not laced with personal invective, and made cogent points about sports blogs and the Internet. It was also abundantly clear that I had disappointed people who had been fans of my work. That hurt terribly. They were also right.
I should also point out, just for the record, that I have gotten many emails applauding what I said because they feel that Deadspin in particular does routinely go too far. But still does not excuse profanity on my part. Although I am pretty sure that everybody watching the show, given that it is HBO, had heard the words œshit and œfuck before. After all, this is the network that has produced Deadwood and The Wire.
There are some very good information-based sports blogs out there written by bloggers who clearly have excellent sources, just as there are some ESPN commentators who think before they talk and some marvelous radio talk show hosts who know their information inside and out and also have real sources. Now of course I will contradict myself by making the generalization that as a society, we have become more petty and mean-spirited and nastier than ever. We revel in watching celebrities fall apart. We revel in mockery and that is true of every media outlet whether you define it as new or old or mainstream or the future or whatever. Sports blogs certainly do not hold the monopoly on being vindictive.
I have seen my fair share of blogs, some out of curiosity, some because I have been on the receiving end of them as the result of magazine pieces I have written or my books. Hence my generalization, too sweeping I admit, that sports blogs are dedicated to cruelty and mean-spiritedness. But just to reiterate, I have learned over the past few days that some are quite good and far from lunatic.
Replies David Roth, “It’s honestly confusing to me: ‘Friday Night Lights’ is a generous, full-spectrum masterpiece of a book, about sports and society and how the two intersect. And now, it seems, his whole worldview has irised down to this cheesy manichean me-and-against-the-dumb-people-of-the-world thing. How does a brain shrink like that?” It’s a fair question, and while Bissinger deserves some credit for admitting there are some sports blogs devoted to something other than “journalistic dishonesty”, surely there can be redeeming value to blogs that are something other than “information based”. “Humor” comes shortly after “horsefucker” in the New Webster’s Dictionary.