Mission Statement

by Ryan

[via Awful Announcing]

The above video is the prerequisite to what you will see here. Unless you were like me and ignored hockey for 90 minutes to watch HBO, please take the few minutes to watch an old man complain about change.

Good? Okay.

Now, I’ve always liked Buzz Bissinger‘s work. He is a respected author and Pulitzer Prize winner. Bissinger wrote one of my favorite sports books, and what he did with Friday Night Lights was the first thing I’d read that made me want to be a writer. Buzz Bissinger made me fall in love with “New Journalism”, and he should be given credit for that at every turn.

I have to admit, having those feelings disintegrate in the matter of a few minutes really was something special.

The strange thing is that I’m not mad at Buzz Bissinger. I’m sad, really. How could someone so talented, so celebrated, not see the forest for the trees? Buzz went on national television in the hopes of defending his medium and ended up exploding to the point where his arguments were refuted by his own actions.

He criticized bloggers for being negative and vulgar while insulting Will Leitch’s intelligence and saying words that only HBO can air before 11PM. He was arrogant and angry, bullying everyone else off the stage like a teacher embarrassed by a student’s correction. His intent was to appear strong and stoic, but in the end he looked quite sad and helpless, exhausted by the effort.

As I was watching Will Leitch get railroaded on live television, I couldn’t help but get depressed by the spectacle. Is this how others view blogs? A vulgar wild west of nonsense and deception? Is that what this site is about? Taking shots at others and giving wild opinions not worthy of the server space?

After sleeping on it and putting on a pair of pants (a respectable pair I could even wear outside of my mother’s house…) my conclusion was a resounding no. The truth is that Buzz Bissinger does not and will not ever understand what sports blogging is all about, and I’m okay with that.

In a medium “built for speed”, sports blogs are still infants. This very site is just under a year old, and while the growth we’ve seen in that time is drastic, compared to others we have barely taken the protective film off the shiny new toy that is a blog.

Blog. You could tell he didn’t understand just by the way he said it: “Blag.” He and Costas, as well as the millions of people that just don’t “get it” all say it with that long “a.” It is very much like the way people above 30 say “cool.” Sure, they understand what it means, but when you really mean it you add a little “u” in between the “oo”s to show that you really “get it.” Blogging is that new “cool”, and if you don’t know how to say it now, good luck understanding when it catches its stride.

It is interesting to note Bissinger’s Pulitzer Prize win in 1987, as the very award is an example of the evolution of the medium. Joseph Pulitzer, the award’s namesake, was one of the founders of Yellow Journalism, the sensationalist foundation of large-circulation newspapers. Yes, the greatest prize in his field is named after scandalous and “not quite libel” writing.

The origins of newspapers are questionable and at times downright pathetic, but out of that history of deceit came something wonderful. Newspapers brought literacy to the masses, as well as a new understanding of news in our nation. How many boys fell in love with the game of baseball through box scores and the words of those reporting from the press box? Over time newspapers evolved and matured, giving us the best that journalism had to offer. Who is to say that the same thing won’t happen with blogs?

Last year when we started this site I had no real knowledge of sports blogs. Since then I’ve spent hours and hours looking at the work of others, and I feel like a better fan for it. Their words are not gospel, their prose is not revolutionary, and sometimes grammar is incorrect; but what they have to say has affected me and how I watch sports, and absolutely for the better. I have never loved sports as much, and I have never had as much fun as a fan.

Something good will come out of this, I can promise you all that. For every negative, unreadable blog created in six seconds there is a solid, insightful one that is worked on for weeks and months and years. It is ironic that what Bissinger read last night as “disgusting” was one of the best justifications for sports blogs that I have ever read. Guys like Big Daddy Drew and Ken Tremendous have become some of my favorite writers not because they are outstanding journalists but because they are hilarious and can deliver a good point every once in a while.

Perhaps this is a degradation in standards or the dumbing down of society, but I don’t see anything wrong with wanting an alternative. I still read books, I know who Ralph Ellison is, and I could probably make you dinner out of a cook book if you asked nicely. However, I feel strongly that what you are reading right now is the future. It isn’t the end of newspapers, it’s not a virtual Bay of Pigs invasion, this is something new and fresh, and we’re going to see it through to the end.

Something good will come out of this, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

4 Comments

  1. sabresfan88

    Great post. I’m a journalism major trying to figure out what I want to do in 5 years and how to get into the field, and I think that what you’re saying is an important point for people like me to keep in mind. The future of journalism is online, and I would be surprised if blogging (or some derivation of it) isn’t a huge part of the field ten or twenty years down the road.

    It’s sad to see someone so revered on national TV being so bullheaded about something many people feel passionate about. Someone should show him James Mirtle’s blog. Since discovering his blog a few months ago, I read that stuff religiously. I suppose he also writes for a newspaper, and I didn’t hear Bissinger’s views on people like him, but that is quality writing. How can this guy not see that blogging is a great tool for today’s journalist and not just a forum for slander? Mirtle blogs several times a day. If there were no blogs those little blurbs wouldn’t be widely circulated, because they certainly wouldn’t be published in a newspaper.

    I guess in the grand scheme, one person’s negative comments and views aren’t going to be that important. But still, it’s disappointing to see someone like Bissinger acting like that.

  2. sabresfan88

    …and you know what? The whole appeal of blogs for me is that you get different angles of what you’re interested in. Hockey is my favorite sport. I spend every day reading about hockey, watching hockey, playing hockey, talking about hockey. One day, I hope to get paid to write about hockey. But in spite of the existence of people like me, hockey isn’t all that popular in the U.S. If I want to get different viewpoints, blogs are the way to go. I mean, I could (and do) go to sites like ESPN.com and read what their writers have to say, but frankly, most of it is crap. I think that there’s a good chance that hockey fans benefit from blogs more than anyone, and it’s not surprising that other people can’t understand why we love them so much.

    Alright, I’m off my soapbox, and Buzz has no more ammo than he did before I wrote this. I guess not everyone who comments on blogs attack athletes.

  3. coolman856

    Great video to show really what people think of what we do and what kind of “sports fans” we are supposed to be. The same thing was said about sports talk radio when it first started. Newspaper writers write things all the time that are unfactual, there is no real difference between us and them. Case in point was the Sean Avery story that came out last night. It was first reported that he went into cardiac arrest but that was obviously not true.

    Blogs are just another aspect of sports coverage. Leitch was right, it takes a hell of a lot of work to get a good sports blog and most of the bad ones are just weeded out. In his case, he runs Deadspin which is more off the wall then the rest of the community. Its not like I am segregating them but they are different and respond to a different type of humor. The same people who are hating on blogs are the traditionalists that want to still get their information from a newspaper and believe everything that comes from them are always factually correct.

  4. Ryan

    sabresfan88,

    I agree with your view of Mirtle, as well as how resourceful it is to have someone like that putting information out there for fans like us. He would not have a fourm for stats and the little things he covers with a newspaper, and so blogging has brought out the best of his talents.

    Hockey in particular is an interesting topic for blogs because there really is little coverage in the MSM. I too feel we have a different view of the situation because without blogs being a hockey fan would be completely different.

    coolman856,

    Also agree. Taking the term “blog” and applying it to everything was only his first mistake. What we do here is different from The Big Lead or Deadspin for sure, and even some other blogs that just cover hockey all do it differently. There is good and bad, and I’d go as far as saying it is mostly good.