Saturday, May 03, 2008
Bloggers Are People Too, Buzz
On Saturday afternoon, I caught a replay on HBO of "Costas NOW," which is Bob Costas' sports show. (I've always enjoyed his take on sports, especially baseball. Very similar to mine.) He had a special live show on this week about sports and the media, and the part that's gotten the most attention has been the part of the show about the Internet. He had on Will Leitch of Deadspin, the entertaining sports blog, and Buzz Bissinger, who is the author of many books on sports, most notably, "Friday Night Lights" and "Three Nights in August," which is about Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals. (An interesting book which I read a few years ago.) Their segment had some verbal fireworks on it, to say the least.
The YouTube clip gets off to a rollicking start, as Bissinger begins by telling Leitch, "I think you're full of shit." And Bissinger gets rolling on a long diatribe about how the Internet and sports bloggers are "dumbing down America." Bissinger came on the show looking like he had just swallowed a mouse, and comes off as a really crotchety old man. (He reminds me of those old men who would tell younger people, "It was much better in my day!") Bissinger comes off as elitist, and like he's talking down to Leitch and the audience. (Notice the way he's tilted in his chair.)
Bissinger is indeed correct about a lot of the negativity that pervades sports blogs, but he comes off as one of those sportswriters (Dan Shaughnessy comes to mind) who sees bloggers as nothing but a threat to their existence. He also seems to believe, like Shaughnessy has written, that most bloggers are guys in their underwear who live in their mother's basement and do nothing but take potshots at athletes (as well as sportswriters). Listen, there is plenty of crap on the Internet as far as sports bloggers goes. But there's also plenty of crappy sportswriters as well.
Bissinger seems to realize that sports bloggers are here to stay, but perceives us as the enemy. As far as I go, I try to keep my own blog as positive and upbeat as I can. I enjoy writing about the Red Sox, baseball, trivia, and anything else I feel passionate about. Do I have some negativity on my site from time to time? Sure. What blog doesn't? I try to write with some intelligence, and I hope my audience (however large or small it might be) out there enjoys it.
And no, I don't have a degree from a major university in journalism, but that doesn't mean I have no right to express my opinion. That's the beauty of the Internet. The Information Superhighway has good and bad, you just have to separate the two. And I don't hide here, as I have an address posted here if people wish to offer me feedback. And I enjoy hearing from people who check my site out.
I enjoy reading Deadspin from time to time (and as a matter of full disclosure, my site was linked to an article written there last year-thanks guys), and they have every right to exist. They have been very influential, and it drives most sportswriters like Bissinger insane. There are many well-written, funny, insightful sports sites out there. I have also seen many sites that are simply awful and not worth the time to try to read. But they have a right to exist, too.
Good and bad bloggers. Just like many sportswriters I've read in my life.
Get over it, Buzz. The Internet is here to stay. Get used to it.
BTW, the clip is just over 4 minutes, and some of the language "Pottymouth" Bissinger uses is more than a little colorful. You have been warned.