Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bloggolalia: Is Sports Blogging All Grown Up?

I've been doing some thinking lately about the future of this blog. Now that it's been a little while, the truth can be told as to why I started writing here in 2006. It was mostly out of irritation that many good stories were being ignored by the top blogs. I felt like many of the top bloggers were just hanging out with each other and copying the themes in each others' work. As I've complained before, it seemed like every writer fit the same generic template: NY/DC dweller, male, aged 24-34, white, well-educated, middle-class, liberal, and non-religious. Thus, the biases and lack of diversity in writing drove me to start my own blog.

However, it seems to me that sports blogging has turned some sort of corner in 2008. Yes, many bloggers still lazily fail to get to the root of a story. Many bloggers still believe that biased snap judgments on minority (and majority) groups is their god-given right.

But I also think that the storytelling has gotten a little more balanced. Voices like MODI, D-Wil, Dave Zirin, and Michael Tillery no longer seem to be shouting into a cyber-space vacuum. Modi and D-Wil have pointed out some significant improvements in the blogosphere themselves. I would say the bottom for sports blogging was coverage of the Vick story. But the blogosphere, as a whole, did well in covering stories like Sean Taylor, the Fanhouse's attempt to supplant normal sports bloggers with fantasy sports girls, and Lebron James Vogue story. To be honest, one of the reasons I stopped writing for SOMM was that I didn't have as much fire in me anymore to write. I felt that things had improved so much that there was a lot less for me to complain about, ha, and thus my writing was dry and becoming forced.

So what do you think? Have I overstated the immaturity of the early days of sports blogging, or was there really a problem? Has sports blogging changed for the better, and what still needs to change? Or have I gotten soft and sold out to "The Man", seduced by promised links and kind words? (Understand, I hope this post doesn't read as "Oh, sports bloggers are writing more like me/my biased agenda, and that's a good thing." No way! My writing is long-winded and a bit pretentious.)


  1. I would say I agree, to an extent. I think the blogosphere has gotten so big, and there are so many more quality options out there, that it makes sense that there are now more than one or two "outside" blogs. Like you hinted at, there used to be a time when it was just a small handful of bloggers screaming into a vacuum.

    And secondly, some of the bigger blogs - and I think The Big Lead started this trend - have tried hard to reach out to "outside" opinions, via more links and other methods. I mean, back in the days of Will Leitch's Deadspin, he really tried to reach out there, and when he did (i.e. the David Zirin interview), the reception was pretty negative. Now it seems more likely that a big blog will give an opening to a smaller blog with a "serious" agenda (as opposed to the "frivilous" blogs post that dominated link dumps in previous years).

    Oh, and finally: a lot of "serious" blogs have adopted a more nuanced approach to getting their message out there. It just to be ESPN-style... screaming loudly to make your point. Now people - bloggers - are learning the value of smart, civil discourse.

    So I would agree that there has been an improvement in the overall blogging scene. Is it an ideal, perfect world yet? Nah, there is still a long way to go... but the blog scene is looking much better than other media platforms right now (i.e. sports talk radio and ESPN). Worth noting....

  2. I agree that blogs are still a good avenue for voicing oppositional opinions (I especially enjoyed the Starbury piece on SoMM). But at the same time I don't think it's really a good idea to say that blogs should only be about that. I for one enjoy reading KSK's (hilariously racist) dramatical pieces because I enjoy the passion. I enjoy reading the opinions of different fans and then arguing (usually civilly) about why or why not their opinions are justified. It is the good blogger that is able to take a comment that pushes against his or her logic to then make a counterargument (I think you already said this or at least implied it).

    I think this idea was covered a long time ago when the blogosphere got into that big hubbubb about what a blog should and should not be. This is a meritocracy (or if you're a link whore--a lot of hard work schilling your own stuff). If you write really passionate pieces that other people enjoy, then you'll build a following. If you're just an irrational asshole...well you might build a following but it will be filled with people who are also assholes. I think my point is that there's still plenty of immaturity out there but we're (for the most part) becoming less and less reactionary in our responses to it. If we don't like something we move on.

    Nice work, Bias.

  3. you are right on the money. every blogger seems to be New York or DC, arrogant, sarcastic, jagoffs.

    Examples include Deadspin, KSK, Ufford, Motram, and their entire clicky gay army. It really sucks.

  4. what's up Bias,

    cosign SML.

    there has definitely been improvement with the leitch-Bissinger affair being the igniter. I would also single out TBL as leading "the big blogs" in that improvement.

    I also see some improvement in MSM beginning with Yahoo (check out jonathan Littman writing about Bonds or the "Who shot Billey Joe Johnson" story. having said that, I see absolutely no improvement from ESPN whatsoever. Still doing the "pacman" thing; Still making up stories about T.O; and still spending resources to investigate BS stories over real ones.

    But to answer your question: yes, you are getting soft MC!!! :-)