Let me get this out of the way at the start: I’m not qualified to criticize actual journalists. Several of my friends hold journalism degrees and real jobs in the newspaper industry, so I know what it is to be an authority on all the random things one needs to know to be a sports reporter. And, since I’m a sports blogger, I know that there are essentially no qualifications needed to be one. Luckily for me, I’m not criticizing actual journalists today. It’s columnists that I hate.
I should also say when I read that Stephen A. Smith thinks blogs shouldn’t be allowed to have an audience, my first though was, “damn, he’s right, there isn’t any oversight for bloggers.” We’re just out here saying whatever, stalking high school pole vaulters (I love you Allison, did you get the lock of hair I sent?), and making fat jokes about Charlie Weis (that freaking walrus). Let’s face it, life is good out here in the blogosphere. But Stephen A. did have a point, sort of.
Then two columns appeared in the Indianapolis Star and the Los Angeles Times yesterday and today which proved that oversight isn’t the point at all. I realized that Stephen A. Smith and his ilk don’t like bloggers because they know even less about sports than bloggers do. Even quasi-functioning idiots like me are more in tune with whats going on in the sports world. Sports writers no longer have the market cornered on know-it-all-ness, and it turns out that they’re often much worse at their jobs than what bloggers do for free. To wit:
The Indy Star’s Bob Kravitz. He basically complains that the Colts’ beloved coach, Tony Dungy, is open to being called a hypocrite because he claims to be a family man, yet he has decided to leave his family in Florida and keep working in Indianapolis. To borrow from Jim Rome, “have a take and don’t suck, Bob.” Kravitz has a take, but definitely manages to suck.
The myriad reasons that going after Dungy’s ability to talk about his family are numerous and impressive, but I’ll go with this one: not even a blogger would touch that topic because it’s none of our business. No one cares about the guy’s family life or ability to moralize outside of when tragedy happens and when he writes a book about it. Colts fan just wants the guy to win football games and what happens with his family is his business. The rest of America just thought, “Tony Dungy wrote a book?” Kravitz’s take isn’t any better than any other opinion by a two-bit blog like this one, so what makes his writing so great other than the title of the newspaper he works for? Besides the fact that it doesn’t say “Just Hanging Out, Playing Nintendo” under the Indy Star’s title. But if Tony Dungy isn’t doing the morally correct thing, what credibility would Bob Kravtiz have to discuss it? He’s really doing an excellent job defending his industry as a whole.
My beef with Bill Plaschke’s column from yesterday is much more personal to my favorite sports teams. How is it possible that someone thinks Billy Volek would have led any team to victory in any road stadium in the NFL, let alone the AFC Championship game? (and yes I know the Chargers beat the Colts on the road, but Volek was in the game for like seven minutes) That’s almost as dumb as Deion Sanders questioning LaDainian Tomlinson’s toughness. At what point did Deion take that kind of pounding in his career? Right, never. And since when is Bill Plaschke even remotely qualified to question whether or not a guy can play football? Right, he isn’t.
Anyway, it’s one thing to say the Chargers could have won that game, they totally could have. But it’s Billy freaking Volek. The Chargers don’t have John Elway on the bench behind Rivers. Sunday’s game was nothing less than a gutsy performance by a great player. He had a torn ACL, had to have an arthroscopic procedure earlier in the week just to be able to play, and he still played extremely well. There are tons of reasons that the Chargers lost, so to blame it on this one thing is not only intellectually dishonest, it’s lazy too. Plaschke was at the Chargers’ game on Sunday, he must have seen that losing Tomlinson was much more devastating to the team’s chances than an injured Rivers playing. But he didn’t. So what makes him better than a blogger, again?
If newspaper columnists don’t have the ability to moralize well, then they definitely don’t have the ability to second-guess on-field decisions. If there’s one thing we know from this many columns by fat guys in ties and incoherent analysis by former athletes, it’s that pretty much anyone can say something dumb about sports. Sometimes people even manage to say something smart. But what’s most obvious is it’s not something that only certain people, employed by certain agencies, can do, especially not anymore. And now back to our regularly scheduled post about how Charlie Weis is fat.