"But anyone who has read Fire Joe Morgan over the years realized those guys were too good not to be writing professionally somewhere."
Can I be honest with you? I resent the thinking behind that line (although I have the greatest respect for Book William). Is the impression, then, that all good blog writers are professionally-trained and work as writers? Thus, the sports blogs are nothing more than a slumming ground for writers with professional training? And if you're a journalist or writing major without a job, or your real writing career is boring you to tears, you start a sports blog? Or start sucking up to those writing sports blogs in hopes that they'll link to you when you get fired from your mainstream jobs? Those descriptions cover in one way or another nearly every larger blog I enjoy: Deadspin.com, TheBigLead.com, Withleather.com, thestartingfive.net, dwil.wordpress.com, truehoop.com, danshanoff.com, and yaysports.com. News that these top blogs are run by individuals with journalistic or writing training no doubt reassures the mainstream sporting media. The brotherhood remains complete, and the circle is unbroken. But why does it have to be that way?
Personally speaking, I'm angry. I want to believe that people armed with no more than a keyboard and a decent understanding of grammar and writing can become well-respected bloggers. I want to believe that Web 2.0 and blogging really were about the common man/woman getting a voice, that it was a revolution in more than just the method of communication. I don't want sports blogging to be a minor-league arena or stepping stone for journalists who can't get jobs at espn.com. Instead, I want sports blogging to be a place where lawyers, businessmen, and janitors put down the tools of their trade and show off the diversity of their skills. I want to hear analysis from women, racial minorities, and people who aren't a carbon copy of existing big media writers. And this news item, to me, is yet another smack in the face to that vision.
I am admittedly much more irritated about this than I should be. Perhaps it's because I took writing classes with future writing professionals that I lack respect for a degree as a pre-requisite to writing excellence. Those classes taught me that I could write just as well (let me drop false modesty and say better) as the students who were majoring in writing fields. I had to put my mind to it, select topics that I knew well, and work hard, but it happened. I still think that few need a writing degree to be an entertaining, interesting writer, although writers like me could use an editor to cure our rambling sentences, ha. But with this revelation from FJM, proving that became even harder for those of us who aren't professionally trained.
Postscript: I respect the writing professionals in the sports blog world; I just don't like the fact that they dominate the conversation so thoroughly. I hate the implication that much of Web 2.0 in sports blogs can just be seen as a minor league training ground for journalists and writers--a self-publication outlet of sorts. But after reviewing the evidence, I have to agree with that definition, and that makes me mad.