It amazes me what fear of change will make a man say. Out of nowhere, a man who has spent 40 years showing he knows how to craft words in a pleasing, meaningful way could not think of anything more to spout than “I really think you’re full of shit.”
The crafter of these fine words, of course, was Buzz Bissinger, whose bizarre and pathetic attack on Will Leitch you’ve probably already seen (but is here if you haven’t). Before Bissinger interjected, the conversation had been lighthearted and sensible even where viewpoints differed. Bob Costas brought up the point that some blogs take on a mean-spirited tone, and then Leitch (blogger) responded in a level-headed, mild-mannered way before Bissinger (classically trained legitimate sportswriter!) interjected with the completely random assertion that Leitch is full of shit. Which side is mean-spirited, again?
I remember reading once how threatened maestros were by the advent of radio back in the day. They were certain that if people could listen to orchestras on the radio, they’d cease to attend live performances, and the musicians and the maestros themselves would be out of business. Replace “radio” with “blogs,” and “maestros” with “newspaper writers” and this is exactly the fear Bissinger faces. Have people stopped attending symphony performances? Heck no; if an orchestra is good, people will travel many miles and shell out all kinds of money to see them – or any of a thousand other types of musicians that came into existence only because new forms of listening to music were introduced. The difference is that advances in technology have given music fans – or in this case, sports fans – a choice.
Something that really insulted me as a young person who loves reading is that he seems sure that my generation (or even Leitch’s) wouldn’t know good writing if we saw it, because our internet is so full of bad writers. That’s offensive; is he not aware that a lot of people his age – people with journalism degrees, press passes, and decades of experience -- can also suck? Working for a newspaper does not make a man a good writer; writing for a blog does not make a man a bad writer, and shame on Bissinger for refusing to acknowledge that. He did nothing to help his case; his own fear of change will only contribute to the death of newspapers. If “traditional” journalists don’t start to embrace or at least acknowledge the new avenues by which information is available, they will cease to have a place in sports fans’ daily lineup of reading, and will have no one but themselves to blame.
UPDATE: I could have saved myself the trouble of stewing over this matter all night (and accidentally oversleeping a final exam by 45 minutes) by just referring to this post of JoePo's from last fall. A lot has been said in the last few days about the Bissinger tirade specifically, but it all boils down to a stupid Us v. Them debate that doesn't need to be brought up another time. OK, I promise this is the last I will say about Buzz Bissinger.
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