There has been a lot of blog talk ever since that sports journalist went off on a blogger from Deadspin on a Costas special. I didn’t see it. But I heard an excerpt on the radio. The guy went batshit crazy. And I think I know why. I’ll get to that in a minute.
I have worked in sports journalism, as an editor, writer, and photo editor. I was very good at it and the company wanted me to stay. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into that line of work until my 30s, and I was unable to pursue a career because by that point I had grown fond of having money for certain creature comforts, like food.
The local sports talk radio stations have been talking about this blogging topic a lot lately, and tonight, I called in to give my two cents as a sports blogger. They are pretty reasonable about it, I let them know what I do here (or used to do here) and what I did before in sports journalism. We had a nice conversation where I tried to give the point of view of the blogger, why I’m doing it and how hard it is to keep it going. I didn’t mention the name of my blog but did make it clear that it is satire. They thanked me for calling and hung up. I turned off the car and went inside the school to pick up my kid. A friend called who heard me and said, “Did you hear what (local sports columnist) said after you hung up? He said, ‘I wish I could have asked him when the last time he was in a pro locker room.’”
Holy fucking smug, passive-aggressive bitchslap, dude. After I’ve hung up, you take a chance to let everyone know that I’m not a professional, and you are. Give me a fucking break. Of course you’ve been in a locker room a lot more than me. You write for the paper. No one comes to this blog to get breaking news about Vince Young. It’s not what we do here. YOU WIN! YOU HAVE A REAL SPORTS WRITING JOB!! CONGRATULATIONS!
Problem is, it reeks of arrogance, which is what is fueling this “war” between bloggers and mainstream guys. Whether they admit it or not, the mainstream good-old-boys club is, to some extent, being threatened. Thanks to blogs, they’re discovering that there are people out there who know grammar and structure and how to turn a phrase who choose to write about sports. And some of those writers are really good. And some of those writers get readers. And if they get big enough, they make money and go get yelled at on HBO. Turns out writing about sports isn’t rocket surgery. Of course we don’t have editors or fact checkers. That’s why some of the old school guys are going batshit crazy. People are writing and getting read and there’s no way for them to stop it, so they play the you’re-not-trained and the you’re-not legitimate cards from up in their ivory press box. I’ve never read a sports blog that I consider hard news. It’s pure entertainment.
I have a degree in music from one of the best music schools in the world. Musicians learn from the beginning that your training doesn’t mean shit, it’s how you play. I can walk into a bar any night of the week in this town and find self-taught musicians with improper technique who can play circles around my music-degreed ass. Until recently, sportswriters have never had to face this kind of situation. For this guy to ask me when the last time I was in a pro locker room would be like me asking Stevie Ray Vaughn when the last time was that he read music in a symphony. I’m sure the dead guitar player would look at me like the prick that I was and say, “Never. Dude, I’m just playing some fucking blues.” And walk away.
So to you sports journalists who feel like you need to point out that you’re more qualified than me to do this, come down off your insecure high horse. I’m just writing a fucking blog.