It's rare that you will ever see BSD get in a pissing contest with the traditional media, or the "mainstream media" as they like to call themselves. A sports writer has to say something pretty stupid to ruffle my feathers. But it does happen, like last night when sports writer Buzz Bissinger shouted down Will Leitch from Deadspin on HBO. (Warning: May not be suitable for work due to foul language)
When you can't even get your first point out before the person brought on the show to offer a counter point to yours interjects and says you are "full of shit", it's probably not going to be a fun night. To Will's credit, he handled it beautifully just being polite and letting the vulgar piece of trash make an ass of himself. How ironic it was to watch Bissinger accuse Leitch of being vulgar and vile while calling Leitch "full of shit" and saying blogging "really pisses the shit" out of him. Then he dropped this line.
As a blogger, this really offends me. Would anyone out there say BSD is "dedicated to cruelty" if we make a joke about Joe Paterno's age? Or what if we craft a photoshop of Joe Paterno running to the outhouse on the sideline? Is that cruel? Maybe it is cruel. But it's also damn funny, which is part of the reason why you all keep coming back here as well as visiting other blogs: to be entertained. We all come here to escape real life for a brief period of time. We come here to forget about our jobs, our nagging bosses, our overbooked social lives, and whatever other problems we may have. Sports are a perfect outlet for such escapes, and sports blogging is becoming the 21st century extension of sports. So while it may be cruel to make fun of Joe Paterno's bathroom habits, nobody takes it seriously. Joe Paterno was caught on live national television running across the field with the squirts. Do you really think he cares what we're saying about him on this piece of crap blog?
Bissinger then states that blogs are "dedicated to journalistic dishonesty". I take major exception to this. First of all, I have never considered myself to be a journalist. I have no desire to be a journalist. I'm not interested in breaking stories and "creating" news. I prefer to react to what I see and offer my opinions and analysis. I rarely get inside scoops, and the ones I get come from people I've never met before and have no reason to believe. So I almost never run those stories until I read them from a credible source. When I do reveal inside information I always quantify it with a "rumor" disclaimer. I'm never going to state something as fact unless I believe it to be 100% true. Never.
According to Bissinger, blogs are contributing to the "complete dumbing down of America". Wow. And here I was blaming American Idol. But don't snicker at me, dear reader. Bissinger is blaming you for this one. It's clearly evident from the Deadspin text he and Costas were quoting that they cannot and do not differentiate between bloggers and commenters. Feel free to rip me apart for anything I say on BSD, but don't attack me for what my readers say. It's rather infuriating when someone attacks your blog because a reader made a comment suggesting they would cheer for Hitler over an SEC team.
But this begs the question: as the administrator of this tube of the internest, if I do not rebuke the comment, erase it, and ban the author, am I accepting responsibility for it? Hell no. Freedom of speech is what makes blogging great. I can throw my opinions out there without fear of the government throwing me in jail. But I do have to fear the BSD readers. When I call Malcolm Jenkins a "fucking liar" you are quick to voice your displeasure in my choice of language by flooding my email box. When I trash the Big East conference I get flamed in email as well as the comments from the Pitt and Rutgers trolls. It comes with the territory and I've learned to let it roll off my back. I have to accept the fact there are millions of people surfing the internet, and more than a few of them are going to think I'm a moron. I'll take responsibility for the things I say, but I'll be damned if I'm going to take responsibility for something some asshole says in my comments section. That's on you.
The beauty of blogs, and Costas and Bissinger clearly don't get this, is that we're not newspapers. We are communities. We are a group of people sharing a common interest who need a place to meet and talk about it. The things you read and say here are no different from the things you would hear and say at a tailgate party. That's how I view BSD. I'm not interested in building the stat meter so I can generate ad revenue. All I wanted when I started blogging was a place I could voice my opinions and exchange ideas with people. Ask me if I would prefer to have 10,000 hits per day and 10 comments per post or 1000 hits per day and 100 comments per post and I'll take more comments every time. Each comment is like a little present to me. When I open up BSD and see 1 New next to the comments I can't wait to open it and read it. Though lately I must confess this community has grown large enough to the point I honestly don't have time to read all of them. I scan through them to make sure everything stays civil and there aren't any flame wars brewing, but it blows my mind to see some of these comment threads grow to 30, 40, or 50 comments. I couldn't be more proud of what you and I have built here, and I hope you're proud of it too.
So call Bissinger a douchebag or whatever. I'm tired of the whole media vs. blogger thing. Many bloggers I know overreact to these types of things. Any time a reporter writes something even remotely resembles something they wrote three years ago they cry plagiarism. It's a little over the top, but I do think bloggers deserve more respect than they're given. As Leitch says in the video, blogging is hard damn work. These posts don't research and write themselves. And the overwhelming majority of us are not getting paid to do it either. That is all. End of rant.