Sports Blogs and Ignorance Collide -- Fallout Continues

For those who don't watch HBO or read Deadspin, there was a bit of an explosion against sports bloggers in general the other night on the show Costas Now. They had a roundtable that included Will Leitch, Buzz Bissinger and, weirdly, Braylon Edwards.

Buzz Bissinger is a really, really, really angry man who wrote Friday Night Lights, and he decided to tell us how much sports blogs, as a generalized whole, completely suck. And the reason they suck is because Big Daddy Drew from Kissing Suzy Kolber wrote some dirty words in this one post on Deadspin one time. And AJ Daulerio of Deadspin, also kind of potty-mouthed, also said that Rick Reilly sucked once, and went on to explain his position on why he thought Reilly sucked. Which is, you know, no different than an opinion column in a newspaper. But because none of this is IN an actual newspaper, Bissinger (and his kind) all despise blogs as a whole. Bissinger said they're "poorly-written" and "profane" -- which he said while dropping the f-bomb and telling Will Leitch of Deadspin that he's full of shit... and other choice words. At one point, Will said, "Oh, come on!" And Buzz responded with, "Come on my ass!" I don't think Will swings that way, Buzz.

So Bissinger cherry-picked a few articles that he thinks denigrade writing as a whole, and then Bob Costas criticized Leitch for some things that commenters -- fricking commenters -- said on Deadspin. You could tell, Will didn't even know how to respond to such lunacy. This is like writing an op-ed piece about the Mayor of Podunkville for the Podunk Gazette and then being blamed because old Jim Bob at the corner luncheonette said that the mayor of Podunk is a dick-face. How can you be blamed for what others say about what you write? Because they post those comments on the same site? You mean, because these sites, including ours, allow comments to be made? In a, you know, free manner? So, wait... since Buzz was being profane and a general butthead because of what he read on Deadspin, is that also Will Leitch's fault? Because isn't Buzz commenting on the articles on Deadspin? Oh, but doing so verbally is okay? I am so confused.

This is one of those issues where it's hard to know where to begin. But this pervasive opinion out there that sports blogs are the devil and are ruining journalism and sports reporting is just completely idiotic. Sports blogs are just that -- blogs. And I am still waiting for someone to explain to me how it's any more irresponsible to post your opinion about something on a blog than it is to write an op-ed piece in a newspaper. Or are newspaper people's opinion's more legit than mine or yours because they work for a fricking newspaper? How elitist and obnoxious is this? Do physical trainers have a beef against Boilerdowd because he goes to the gym and designs his own workout regimin? But, wait, he's not a physical trainer! He's not qualified!

The sweeping generalizion that Bissinger and others put forth also states that bloggers are irresponsible and post lies -- damn lies! -- about athletes in an effort to hurt them. Which, no. Most blogs post pictures and things that actually happened. And if it's questionable, they say "this is questionable." I think Bissinger and his clan think that bloggers put up posts that are angry and made-up and have no pictures or video and say "Hey everyone!!1!!!!111! I just went by the practice facility and Charlie Weis was having sex with Brady Quinn and a goat!"

When in realty, everyone knows Chuck and Brady prefer sheep, not goats.

No, but seriously, I think this is what they (Buzz and his ilk) think. They think blogs are simply irresponsible, made-up stuff purporting to be facts. But bloggers are widely understood (by those capable of understanding) to be OPINION people. They post to be funny or to express their opinion. Sure, some provide you the scores and stats, too, but that's not why most people start blogs.

And speaking of being irresponsible and making things up... why isn't there an outcry for Mitch Albom, for example, to be fired after he wrote a story for a game he wasn't even at (but implied he was) and filed it before it even happened and then was also caught, basically, plagarizing? I like Mitch, but as a "legit" writer, isn't he supposed to be showing us the way?

I think what angry old men like Buzz get confused about is that they think bloggers are guys who basically made up a new version of newspapers and are self-appointing themselves as reporters. This couldn't be further from the truth. Tim, Boilerdowd and I are decidedly not reporters. We write about sports and often about Purdue. We sometimes have thoughts, funny or otherwise, and have an outlet to write them down. If I penned my thoughts in a notebook and then had you all over to my house to read the notebook, would I be an evil blogger? (Note, no, it would be a trick, wherein I nab a few of you unsuspecting youngsters to stand in for me and watch The Notebook with my wife while I go play golf.)

And while we're on the subject of overblown, outdated, dinosaur sportswriters, how come Mike Lupica gets to write about politics in the Daily News? Isn't he a sports columnist? If I'm not qualified to write about sports because I'm not a sports columnist, then Lupica's not qualified to write about politics because he's not a political reporter.

Except that's not true, because sharing your opinions in an open forum is what America should be all about. Free speech, free ideas, free thinking. And now a medium -- blogging -- that allows thousands of us to share our ideas. Blogging is just like a half-dozen of us sitting in a sports bar and shooting the shit about our favorite teams. Only we can bring sports bars from all over the country together into this little chip in my laptop where I can be a part of whatever sports discussion I want.

Whenever I have a great conversation about sports -- or anything, really -- and come away feeling more educated on the subject than I was before, I feel lucky. And blogs allow me to get other people's opinions and spins on things in a far more broad and simple way than ever before. How is this a bad thing?

Oh, that's right... because it's scary. It's scary to experience sweeping change. Remember how scared the music industry was of sites like Napster and being able to get music in ways other than buying an overpriced, mostly-shitty album in a record store? It revolutionized how we buy music. And everyone eventually adapted. This is kind of like that. And it's scary... It's scary for guys like Buzz Bissinger and Rick Reilly and Bob Costas and Mitch Albom and Mike Lupica and Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser to not have youngsters looking up to them like they know absolutely everything... it's scary to them that the rest of us have well-founded opinions and have increasingly available ways to share those opinions. Change scares old people. It scares a lot of people. And blogging, while not exactly new, is new to a lot of these dinosaurs like Buzz Bissinger. And Buzz's reaction was typical of a scared little boy -- he scoffed and insulted and yelled and bullied and just generally acted like a petulant little a-hole. And, Buzz, thanks. That's a really wonderful example of thoughtful discourse. Costas, who I normally like, should be ashamed that he had such a cowardly, uninformed douchebag on his show.

It's truly amazing -- if you're reading this post, you're part of the problem, according to Buzz. But if you read a scathing, uninformed article that Buzz writes (and FJM deconstructs some of Buzz's work here) then you're a good soldier.

The ignorance of those who relentlessly hammer blogs is outdone only by their cowardice in accepting the fact that this is simply a medium, nothing more. A medium! Television is a medium, radio is a medium... and, yes, blogging is a medium. Lumping them all together is like saying "Diff'rent Strokes" sucked and so you also hate Tom Brokaw. Hey, they were both on television! They must be basically the same!

Bloggers don't all think the same thing, write the same way, and march like armies of darkness. We're all individuals, making our voices heard. And isn't that why most writers get into the business of writing in general?

To review the poorly-moderated, um, altercation that was the "Internet Media" segment the other night, go here and check out the video.

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