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Culture Shock

Semi-Incoherent Ramblings About the State of Sports Journalism

I find “Saturday Night Live” fascinating.

The show itself is a bloated carcass of what it once was and oftentimes is anti-funny propaganda for whatever star has a film to plug, but it is everything else that makes me so intrigued.

It’s the behind-the-scenes exploits that pique my curiosity. Tina Fey wrote about Lorne Michael’s process of her selection to the phenomenon in her book “Bossypants”. She stated the anxiety, drama and jars full of urine that were commonplace in her everyday activities. This is what fascinates me.

The same can be said for the world of sports journalism, especially what’s happening at ESPN. I once wrote a column about why Skip Bayless, talking head and constant derpface, was the devil, but I would like to rescind this statement. He’s not the devil, but instead working in a business that is inherently evil. The constant striving to attain clicks has become conventional in online sports journalism circles. “Twenty cat gifs that show my reaction to that catch”, “You won’t believe what the coach said”, “How many times does this have to happen before we fix it” are all headlines based off of articles that I scroll by every day.

There are times where I despise the business I want to work in, but that’s because I’ve seen what the best of it can be. In-depth sports pieces or interesting game recaps, telling a full-arching story, are a rarity now but the best of the best are as powerful as anything else found on a page. I would put Albert Burneko’s “Fuck Winning” next to any of the “Harry Potter” or “Series of Unfortunate Events” books that molded my childhood. It’s powerful, funny and compelling. Everything that the majority of sports journalism is not.

Now let’s talk about Stephen A. Smith.

Stephen A. Smith is incredible at what he does. I would go as far as saying that no one is as good at his or her job as Stephen A. Smith is. The problem is his job calls for him to be a buffoon and incessantly whip up arguments. Currently, he is in a tiff with Kevin Durant about Durant’s future. It’s a he-said, she-said type argument in which the only winner is ESPN’s ratings.

A quick roundup: Smith declared that Durant was thinking about the Lakers for his upcoming free agency, Durant promptly replied that Smith was a liar and then Smith did that thing where he whispers and yells at the same time.
This isn’t journalism, it’s a bunch of loud noises that happen to be on ESPN about basketball.

Currently, I am the Weekend editor for the IDS. Yes, this is a humblebrag but it’s necessary. Shut up. With that, I love writing about movies, television and music. It feels calmer.

There are arguments, sure, but at the end of the day it’s all a preference. I may not agree with you on the merits of “Avatar”, but it will never progress to the point that sports does.

Perhaps it’s tribalism or a longing to really belong to something, but sports often bring out the worst in people. Stephen A. Smith is just the latest example in a long life of senselessness.


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