Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Get Used to It: Sports Blogs are Here to Stay

Certainly no sports journalist took notice in 2005 when Will Leitch opened, a sports blog with the motto, “Sports without access, favor or discretion.” Three years later, however, Deadspin has become one of the most popular sports blogs on the internet, famous for breaking the Mike Vick as “Ron Mexico” story, posting pictures of Ben Rothlisberger with a “Drink Like a Champion Today” T-shirt, and inspiring the catchphrase, “You’re with me leather.”

In the three years after its creation, Leitch became the leader of an underground movement against the sports establishment, and the mainstream media, as well as the most hated man in sports journalism. He was for a time blacklisted by ESPN, who had many a black eye from Leitch’s exposes of the daily operations of the sports media monopoly, and, with every controversial picture of Matt Leinart posted on his site, he further infuriated those at ESPN and the rest of the traditional sports world.

So this spring, veteran mainstream media personality Bob Costas held a meeting of the minds. He devoted an entire town hall version of his HBO program “Costas Now” to the relationship between sports and the media. The 90-minute program discussed talk radio, the ESPN age and blogs. The hour and a half show was mostly forgettable – except for the segment on blogs featuring Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, Leitch, then editor of Deadspin and Buzz Bissinger, acclaimed sports journalist and author of “Friday Night Lights.”

In a setup worthy of a Scorcese film, Bissinger and Costas went on the attack, calling Leitch’s site – and blogs in general – crude. Bissinger went as far as to say that Deadspin and the majority of the blogosphere would “dumb us down.” Bissinger got increasingly agitated as the segment went on, ironically admonishing Deadspin and other blogs as profane while using a litany of profanities himself.

By the time the 15 minutes were up, Bissinger had mellowed, as the belligerency was replaced by a sad acceptance. He closed the segment by basically admitting that he is scared for the future of sports journalism.

Bissinger, Costas and the rest of the cadre of stubborn traditional writers miss the point in their attacks on blogs, especially by reverting to cheap insults rather than attempting to truly understand the role blogs can and do play in sports journalism.

First, blogs do not have to compete with the mainstream media. Blogs will never replace the on-the-field access and insight that comes with being a beat reporter, and therefore they will never be able to fill that necessary role in sports journalism. Blogs like Deadspin are not trying to write in the style of David Halberstam. Blogs should be simply another frame of reference to view sports. If Austin Murphy’s column is your Hamlet, and Kirk Herbstreit is your Kenneth Branagh, then blogs are your SparkNotes. Unfortunately many in the mainstream media have failed to understand this, and they place the scarlet “B” on blogs.

Leitch thinks the traditional mediums can learn from blogs.

“I think eventually – it has to happen, right? Mainstream journalism will realize how efficient blogs are, and how cheap they are, and embrace them,” he told me in a recent interview.

The biggest misconception about blogs is that bloggers are the real life equivalent of the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons.” I’ll put it plainly right now: Bloggers do not live in their parents’ basement. In fact, they are professional writers like Leitch, who published his third book last year. They include the writers of, and they are lawyers and businessmen. Or, in the case of the authors of the recently terminated, they serve as writers for Emmy-winning television shows like “The Office.”

In addition, blogs do not become popular for no reason. Bob Costas called the blogosphere the wild west of sports journalism. However, it is not lawlessness that defines it but pluralism and meritocracy. Deadspin became popular for breaking stories ESPN didn’t cover. Kissing Suzy Kolber became popular for its over the top humor, and, a popular University of Michigan blog, draws readers for its comprehensive breakdowns of all things Michigan sports. Blogs are judged by the quality of their content and gain notoriety based on their merits.

Bissinger tried to vilify blogs, but blogs are not to blame for the death of print media – they are the least of the problems. First is the advent of the Internet. In the past 10 years people have shifted their attention from the morning newspaper to the nightly score-check on the Internet. Why wait until you wake up to see who won the Duke-UNC game when you can check it when you come home from being out?

The rise of ESPN hegemony in sports media is another large factor in the decline of print media. ESPN draws away from print media with its numerous 24-hour sports networks, as well as its Web site which has made a habit of converting quality print writers into Internet writers.

“[Newspapers are] declining because they can’t sell classified ads anymore,” Leitch said. “People want to blame blogs for the decline of newspapers. They should blame Craigslist.”

The rise of the Internet has caused as seismic of a shift as that in the 1980s when ESPN was created. The future of sports journalism is unknown, but one thing is sure: The Bissingers and Costases of the world need to learn to appreciate blogs rather than attack them.

What does Leitch, the patron saint of blogs think?

Change is on the way.

“The troglodytes like Jay Mariotti will eventually go away if they don’t get with the program,” he said. “It’ll be a good thing.”

Ryan Travers is a junior in the College. He can be reached at This is the final installment of Illegal Procedure.

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