Opinion: Sports Blogging, Costas, Etc.

in case you missed it last night, Will Leitch of Deadspin.com took part in a ‘roundtable discussion’ about sports blogs alonside Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) and Browns WR Braylon Edwards, hosted by Bob Costas, live last night on HBO’s CostasNow, which also featured separate but similar discussions with other guests regarding print, talk radio and television

To hear from Leitch, check out his post at Deadspin.

first off, i feel badly for will – not that he needs my sympathy – but this was not a discussion…it was a firing line…he was clearly ambushed…costas and the show’s producers seemingly put him on the panel with the lone goal of interrogating him, defaming him and embarrassing him – none of which happend…

…instead, the Pulitzer Prize author, bissinger, came off looking like a paranoid and angry sports writer, who, despite being a smart man with obvious talent, is afraid that he will soon be marginalized by a business and audience who, for better or worse, no longer crave his skillset…

“I think that blogs are dedicated to cruelty, they’re dedicated to journalistic dishonesty, they’re dedicated to speed…It is the complete dumbing down of our society,” said Bissinger.

…my biggest issue with the discussion – if you can even call it that – was that buzz and costas essentially defined the blogosphere as being just Will Leitch, who, though i admire him and enjoy his work, does not represent every blog or blogger…

…there is ‘the blogger,’ which is a person at a keyboard, and there is ‘the blog,’ which is a communication tool…they are two different things, yet always seen as one…

…in reality, the blog tool is used by Presidential Candidates; it is used by corporations for internal communication, like GE or Google; it is used by athletes, like Curt Schilling, to circumvent reporters; it is used by team owners, like Mark Cuban, to speak directly to the fans; it is used by beat writers working for news outlets to report information more quickly than they can on paper; it is used by me, a fan, to express thought-out, pragmatic opinion and information, which has earned me the ability to gain interviews, press credentials, a large readership, a bit of notoriety and a full-time job doing what i love…

…and so, to frame blogs and bloggers as just one person, one style, one agenda, is flat-out ignorant…it is ignorance in its truest form, in that bissinger seemingly had no interest in learning about what a blog can do, why they’re popular, or how they represent a useful form on communication…he ignored this opportunity while remaining only interested in continuing a one-way conversation with the preconceived notion that blogs are bad and only contribute to the dumbing down of society…which is so simplistic it hurts..

…frankly, their discussion could have used a dash of Peter Abraham, who is a beat writer for the Journal News, and who does a brilliant job – not just with his newspaper report, but also with his blog about the Yankees…in fact, i would bet – knowing what i know about newspaper and blog advertising – i bet pete is more valuable to the Journal News as a blogger than he is as a newspaper man…

…pete and i are the perfect example of how sports blogging can be better than what newspapers provide – and by ‘newspaper,’ i mean the physical object that is flung on your porch roughly 24–hours after actual news occured…

…if a team’s beat writer only filed his information on his blog, and did not do so in a newspaper, would it make him any less credible?…no, it would not…he is still a reporter…it is still his job to gather information so you and i have a better, more well-rounded view of what is happening with the team…sure, i do not need him to tell me what happened in the game, which i watched with my own two eyes, but it’s nice to know why things happen and what may happen, and he collects that insight – his work is important and will never be irrelevant…however, how his information gets communicated to the public is just a vehicle…if that vehicle changes – as it will – from a rolled up collection of paper to a one-page scroll on a computer screen, what is the difference…also, why does the reporter have to be employed by a newspaper, or some old-school media outlet…if a writer writes well, is respectful, professional and does her job well, why does it matter who signs her paycheck

…Buzz Bissinger is clearly nervous, and he should be, as he admitted to being…however, to me, the reason he and people like him are nervous is because of limited thinking…they are only seeing the on-coming train from one, violent angle…and, sadly, if they do not get out of the way, unable to unlock themselves from their frozen point of view, he’s right, they will be totally run over

For more, check out Final Score, Fire Joe Morgan and Alan Sepinwell from the Star Ledger, and watch the following clip from last night’s show: