Wednesday, December 5, 2007

SI vs. ESPN (again) and the birth of Skip A. Salsbury

First, let me just say that I was oddly thrilled that the Patriots won that Monday night game. I wanted no part of an angry Patriots team fresh off their first loss. Check out Sam's synopsis of how to beat them below. Oh, and the 'stache just informed me that Anthony Smith has guaranteed a win. Not sure how I feel about that, Kill-Switch...

Anyways, really great piece by Josh Levin over at Slate on one of my favorite topics: what is wrong with Sports Illustrated and how can it be saved? Levin essentially says that SI needs to get rid of the fluffy E! crap that has been trademarked by ESPN and go back to taking hard stances. Not hard stances as in "shout as loud as you can for 15 seconds without ever having to own up to what you say" - there is plenty of that verbal feces being spewed by Skip A. Salsbury at ESPN (from now on, I am just referring to annoying ESPN talking heads as Skip. A. Salisbury. That should cover them all). Instead, take hard stances founded in serious investigative reporting with a spate of thoughtful opinion to layer on top of it. For instance, I remember in '94 (I think) that they had a cover that simply asked "Is Tennis Dying?" Pose tough questions, do research, take a stance, get some good writers: it's an easy blue-print to produce must-read literature in a sports world full of snapshot screaming.

Because while ESPN certainly has entertaining stuff, virtually none of it is must-read (the e-ticket's are often very good, and that is often it). I only bring up Bill Simmons at this juncture because Levin cites him as ESPN's go-to-guy in his article. Which is true. But consider his latest garbage column about the Knicks. Here is the entire article, but I'm most concerned with the closing line...

Same goes for Knicks fans now. In a sports world that is increasingly defined by big money and big markets, the Knicks play in the richest, biggest market of all. You can't drown out their fans and can't reason with them, so don't even try. They will just have to figure out for themselves that they're lucky they don't live in Buffalo or Pittsburgh, where nobody hears you at all.

Put in context with the article, he is mostly referring to the Pirates in this instance (though he should specifically SAY that instead of including the whole city in the matter). But you know what the fun thing is about this asinine comment? I don't even have to criticize Mr. Simmons for it. He does that himself! From his personal website...
I couldn't totally get this week's ESPN The Magazine column to work. Liked the idea, thought it had potential, spent Saturday and Sunday working on it, couldn't quite get over the hump and eventually ran out of time because we go to press Sunday nights.

In other words: yeah, that wasn't a very coherent article and I threw some cities under the bus without really considering their larger sports psyches. I'm still not even sure what the hell the point of the article was. The Knicks suck? Ok, cool. Great. Sports fans don't like it when their teams lose? Revolutionary.

I mean, really, you are telling me that Sports Illustrated couldn't seriously compete with ESPN again? Hell, I think they are competing more with them at this very moment than many people realize, though only because ESPN is letting them. Just think about that statement from their go-to-guy Simmons: nobody cares what people say or think in Pittsburgh - we only listen to big market banter. Sound like an arrogant blanket statement from Around the Horn? You bet it does. Here's hoping SI can ask some tough questions in the next year while readers and viewers or ESPN are left questioning where to get a more substantive sports opinion.

End of Post

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Huge fan of the new design at the top. Bill Simmons blows and so does Beli-cheat.