Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This is the most accessible YouTube-age of the blogfather, Will Leitch, being ambushed by on Costas Now by H.G. (Buzz) Bissinger last night (the full video is at Deadspin).

The question is whether you believe that the culture that is reflected in some-not-all sports blogs is top-down or whether it filters up from the audience. It's probably more the latter and the relationship isn't even close to 50/50. It changes so fast -- just click through the archives and see how much the frequency and the style of posts on this site have changed in the past two years.

Bissinger's heart is in the right place, although telling someone you just met that he's "full of shit" before going on to express concern about a coming world that's "more profane" is a bit ironic. Thing is, why does he assume that his generation has any monopoly on civil discourse?

The one irritating aspect was how he and Bob Costas tried to portray Leitch's posts and the comments at Deadspin seem like one and the same. That's disingenuous at best. The counter-point is the same as it's been for every creative person since the invention of movable type: Buddy, it's not my fault what people choose to take from my work; I just write the sucker and move on.

Bissinger apparently doesn't have a long enough memory. If memory serves, when his best-seller Friday Night Lights was published, he was subject to death threats in Odessa, Texas, because passages in the book prompted the governing body for high school sports to investigate the Permian High football program, and ultimately bar the team from the state playoffs. Bissinger's response (again, going off memory) was that he only wrote what he observed -- he couldn't be blamed if it got a certain reaction.

Why is it any different for Will Leitch? Because he's 32 years old? At the same time, there was a good point in there somewhere. Instead of blaming the blogs, Bissinger, Costas, et al., should set their sights on the bean-counters in Big Media who've forced newspapers to become more like TV rather than stretch. Newspapers aren't suffering due to the Internet; if anything, it makes it easier to write and report since so much more information is readily available.

Someone's going to figure out how to cover sports in print while complementing the blogosphere and vice-versa. Costas should set his big brain on that instead of taking passive-aggressive swipes at Will Leitch.

Sports Media Journal, by the way, cut right to the quick with the blog reaction, asking (paraphrasing here), "If you're confident in what you're doing, why do you need someone else's approval?" In other words, Bissinger, Costas, let it go.


Dennis Prouse said...

Buzz did himself few favours with his angry diatribe. Of course, no one missed the irony of his hateful, vulgar attack on blogs for being hateful and vulgar.

There is, though, another issue. Bissinger's New York Times article on how young pitchers are allegedly being rushed into the majors, and thus getting hurt more often, has now been fisked, and found to be factually incorrect. Bissinger, of course, didn't do any real research for the article, but rather just wrote it based on "gut feel" and prevailing conventional wisdom. And this is the guy questioning the accuracy of what is written on the net? This the guy who gets on TV and in a tone that made George Will sound modest, drone on about "honing his craft for 40 years"? Give me a break.

Pete Toms said...

Well stated Dennis.