An Honest Sportswriter? First off, this Grantland article (“Daring to Ask the PED Question”) by Bill Simmons surely made some jaws drop. The subheading is: “If everyone is secretly suspicious of so many athletic achievements in the 21st century, why aren’t we talking about it?” Here’s the opening paragraph:
I made a deal with myself a long time ago: My column needed to capture the things I discuss with my friends. Last week, I realized that wasn’t totally happening anymore. Something of a disconnect had emerged between my private conversations and the things I wrote for Grantland/ESPN. In essence, I had turned into two people. There’s Sports Fan Me, and there’s ESPN Me.
It’s a long piece, so if you are not up to the task, at least try to read the first five or six paragraphs. You’ll be shocked at the honesty. Here’s a sample:
Sports Fan Me is candid, jaded, suspicious of everyone. Sports Fan Me repeatedly gets involved in arguments and e-mail chains centered on the question, “Do you think he’s cheating?” Sports Fan Me has Googled athletes’ heads and jawlines, studied their sizes, then mailed before/after pictures to friends with the subject heading, “CHECK THIS OUT.” Sports Fan Me has learned to trust his inner shit detector, to swiftly question any accomplishment that seems extraordinary or superhuman.
ESPN Me sticks his head in the sand and doesn’t say anything.
ESPN Me occasionally pushes narratives that he doesn’t totally believe in.
ESPN Me didn’t have the balls to run two e-mails that you’re about to read. They nearly landed in each of my last four mailbags. Each time, I pulled both e-mails (and my responses) from those columns at the last minute.
That’s some candid stuff. I haven’t finished the entire article myself, but I have already encountered plenty of gems.
On a related note… I recently heard a football analyst on the radio decrying his fellow reporters for the latest “story” (it was more like the rumor of the day) they had created. He said those football reporters go to the same games, sit in the same press boxes, drink together, and discuss their ideas for stories. Then they go home and write about the same things. It gives their articles an immediate “everybody is talking about it” vibe. (He, on the other hand, said he never discussed his article ideas, as he didn’t want anyone stealing them! I think that shows he is a talented, thoughtful journalist while most of his peers are devoid of original ideas.)
[Brief interlude… I have been trying to watch Morning Drive this week to catch Shackelford… However, I find it difficult to stay there… I am writing with GC on in the background when I hear some idiot shouting at me about how I need to have a 45-degree takeaway on my backswing with a 33-degree swing plane with a three-quarters pivot on my left heel… TRANSLATION: Change channel to CNN.]
Deception in Golf Reporting, or Still Pumping After All These Years: This crap is tediously formulaic. Not to mention childish. The strategy is to take an accomplish of Rory’s or Spieth’s or Day’s and then minimize it by pointing out how Woods did better. Of course, you never mention Day’s record-setting winning score at a major, Rory being on pace to catch Jack, or Spieth winning two majors way younger than Woods. No, you ignore those inconvenient facts. Accomplishments that outshine Woods are never to be spoken of. And it’s not just Rory, Spieth, and Day who get spat upon. Ever heard of Tom Watson?
Here’s a September 28 ESPN tweet:
First off, the obvious intent is to (1) denigrate the 5-win seasons of Spieth and Day and (2) pump up Tiger Woods. That’s the childish, formulaic part. Now, let’s toss in a little dishonesty and subterfuge.
A thinking person would look at that chart and notice that Spieth and Day are young with the rest of their careers ahead of them. They are likely to have many more 5-win seasons. Speaking of inconvenient truths, how about this one? Woods did not have a 5-win season until he was 23 years old. Spieth got his first at age 22, with the majority of the season played when he was only 21. Meaning Woods was pushing 24; Spieth was barely 22. Gee, the chart doesn’t really point that out, does it?
Now, for Watson. Most people would look at that chart and think, “My gosh, Woods had 5-win seasons ten times! Watson only had one! Wow, that shows Woods is way greater than Watson.
Yeah, except… ESPN stated their Woodstistic in the year 1980 for a reason. The reason was that Tom Watson also had a 5-win season in 1979. And in 1978. And in 1977. ESPN didn’t want to paint Tom Watson’s year box red; that would make Woods’s look far less impressive. Instead, they make it look like Watson had only a single 5-win season.
Now, ask yourself this: Are they going to post a list of majors won since 2008 showing Woods with just one while Rory has four, Spieth two, and, well, you get the point… No, they are not. They would never in a million years want newbies to see that chart and respond, “Oh, Woods just had one major. He sucked.”
By the way, look at the number of retweets and favorites on that tweet. Spreading deceptive information is the heart and soul of the Prop Up Tiger movement.
Jaime Diaz’s Passive-Aggressive Take on Jordan Spieth: I just read this article (“The very qualities that make Jordan Spieth great will be the toughest to sustain”) and was left shaking my head. A better title would have been “That Stupid Ole Jordan Ain’t A-Gonna Replace Our Wonderful Tiger, No Siree!”
Diaz doesn’t even mention Spieth in the first paragraph; it’s exclusively about Woods. He mentions Spieth in the second paragraph, then leads again with Woods in the third. Basically, the entire piece comes down to one contention: Spieth can’t sustain his success because only driving distance can be counted on as a sustainable ability. Putting, chipping, smart play — they are just a matter of being lucky or on a hot streak.