10.24.07

Will Leitch Fan Club Prez Pleads With SI To Limit His Hero’s Workload

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 9:28 pm by

Though Rick Reilly’s departure for ESPN presumably leaves a back of the book void at Sports Illustrated, Dan Shanoff boldly proposes Reilly’s replacement be “THE leading voice of the sports fan today.” And while I wouldn’t have thought Rog was available, it turns out Shanoff is referring to none than Deadspin’s Will Leitch.

If you’re under 30, if you knew who Reilly was at all (and you probably don’t know or, more likely, don’t care), you know Reilly as the author of those columns that — if they didn’t have Reilly’s byline — you’d wonder why editors at SI were putting warmed-over Page 2 column ideas on their back page. (The nadir: Reilly’s tortured “live-blog” of the NFL Draft, which nearly offset his campaign to raise money for malaria nets, which was inspired.)

On the other hand, Will Leitch (above) couldn’t be more relevant. He launched and writes the most influential proposition in sports, a blog that not only is the center of gravity for the entire sports blogosphere, but drives a healthy portion of sports newspaper, radio and TV conversation, too.

That’s precisely the kind of impact that a brand like SI needs. It needs relevancy, not with its established and aging base of magazine readers who might enjoy Reilly, but with its unestablished and young base of cross-platform consumers who do enjoy Leitch.

Yet for all of Leitch’s talents as a blogger, he’s an even better essayist, as anyone who has read his column series on either the NCAA Tournament or the MLB playoffs knows.

What makes Leitch so unique for that role is that, for all of the “Underground” populism, he is a purist at heart. He cares about sports in a way that old school guys like Reilly — who long ago drifted into cynicism cloaked under some kind of stab at “humor” — simply can’t grasp. It’s why Reilly can’t connect with younger consumers anymore. Leitch combines a reverence for what made SI great with a unique empathy for today’s sports fans and a unique understanding of today’s sports landscape. Consequently, he can uniquely bridge the gap between SI’s older consumers and its younger ones, its bygone golden era and its future.

Though I find it somewhat curious that one of Leitch’s pals is dying to see Will taken out of circulation save for one page a week, it could be tremendous fun to see who Gawker Media might appoint to take over Deadspin. Jay Mohr hasn’t really found a project that fit his unique skill-set since “Action”. This wouldn’t be it, either, but I’d love to see it happen.

12 Responses to “Will Leitch Fan Club Prez Pleads With SI To Limit His Hero’s Workload”

  1. David Roth says:

    Shit, I’d take the job, as long as I was allowed to do just two posts a week. And they all had to be either about the Royals or the Nets or how terrible Jorge Sosa is. I expect to be offered the job, by the way.

    Also, Will’s a way better blogger than he is essayist, it seems to me. And yes, I think the first negatively impacts the latter. Write the equivalent of “heh” enough times, and I imagine the next 1,999 words start to seem pretty intimidating. I like Dan Shanoff well enough, but if he has really been that impressed by Will’s long-form stuff…then he is very different than me.

  2. GC says:

    I’ll give Dan this much — his disclaimer was longer than most of my posts.

  3. Mark Swiderski says:

    Yes, I’m sure the folks at SI are all too eager to bring on the guy who gave a forum to the jokers who posted photos of Peter King’s daughter, then defended the action as “newsworthy.”

  4. Repoz says:

    How is S.I. going to fit all those Dude Mastrubating in Library stills?

  5. Ben Schwartz says:

    >If you’re under 30, if you knew who Reilly was at all (and you probably don’t
    >know or, more likely, don’t care), you know Reilly as the author of those columns
    >that — if they didn’t have Reilly’s byline — you’d wonder why editors at SI were
    >putting warmed-over Page 2 column ideas on their back page.

    That “sentence” alone is why Leitch could get the job. I’d take the job if they changed the name of the magazine to “Schwartz Illustrated.”

    Ben

  6. Ward York says:

    I nominate GC as Will’s Deadspin replacement, if only to give the CSTB crew a collective leg-up on getting the next ESPN2.com job, and to alleviate Matador’s ad budget for the upcoming H.P. Zinker retrospective. Also, all-around misanthropy beats gay titty jokes.

  7. Rog says:

    I’m this close to riding the same elevator with the Leitchmonster. Say the word, CG, and I’ll take the fool out.

    One of my co-workers has a similar hatred for this joker and I can’t wait to see his face if they do hire him. I’d say that Leitchy might be in for a good ass-kicking (or ass-grabbing, if the mood strikes) on a daily basis.

  8. GC says:

    I’m not sure which is more amazing — Rog revealing his biz address or anyone else remembering H.P. Zinker.

  9. Ward York says:

    Rog, if you could do something about WL AND switch out Peter King’s Starbucks for some Green Mountain shit, I will totally owe you something.

  10. Rog says:

    Green Mountain is already in the pantries on every floor, but I’ll see what I can do.

  11. itsmetsforme says:

    must…connect…with…younger…consumers!

  12. matt says:

    anyone start getting all ” sound of silver talk to me ” everytime they see that picture?

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