Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dig the Grave, Folks

Sports Illustrated will always hold a special place in my heart. I flipped through it looking at pictures when I was 4, started reading it as soon as I was able, and have been a subscriber for as long as I can remember. Those who have read it cover to cover throughout the years know that it has taken many a subtle shot at the increasingly ESPN-dominated sporting scene and the way that the sports media has changed for the worse. At the same time, it has unfortunately turned to many of the same cheap gimmicks that ESPN has shoved down the publics' throat more and more these past few years. For me, it has been interesting to watch the magazine grapple with these changes and try to flailingly recapture its prominence in the world of sports media.
Well, that quest for return to prominence took a definitive, image-crushing blow yesterday.

I do not consider myself a huge Rick Reilly fan. He is funny and without question has found his niche in the sporting world. Regardless of what you think of him, it is I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E to deny that he has an enormous chunk of clout in the sports journalism world. You could even argue that no one has more pull or has more defined what a "sports columnist" can be than Rick Reilly. He WAS the backpage of Sports Illustrated, and as they have lost more and more writers over the past year or two, it is arguable that he WAS Sports Illustrated.

Remember when everyone was worried about ESPN's Page 2? Whitlock left, Wiley and Hunter S. Thompson passed away, and people thought Simmons might leave too (before he signed his new contract). Well, they nabbed Chadiha and Adande, found a nice role for Jemele Hill, and now they have Rick Reilly. Someone at ESPN.com knows what they are doing. As the article mentions though, Reilly will be used in a variety of roles. This is just a hunch, but if you think Stephen A./Bayliss/Mike and Mike/any ESPN personality has been over-exposed in the past, I have a feeling that Rick Reilly might take it to a whole different level.

It can't be a happy day in the SI offices today. Hopefully they will cheer up when they realize that the DAI writers are still unrestricted free agents.

End of Post

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