Well it has been about a year of writing on the Fanion and the time has come for this writer to call it quits (well at least from writing on this website). Based on the feedback I received during my “vacation”, it appears that life will go on without interruption. But before I sign off, I wanted to share some thoughts on my writing experiences.
First, writing can be extremely therapeutic. Very little else compares to being able to vent your frustrations on Luol Deng’s latest pinky fracture, Lovie Smith’s mediocrity as an NFL coach, or how much I cannot stand baseball. Above anything else, writing enabled me to weather the cold Chicago months. Full pun intended.
Secondly, it seems apparent that there is little room for smart, witty and educated takes on sports (well at least on the blogosphere). The only time that an article of mine would get any play (through comments or reproductions on the Sun-Times Sports site) is when we made strong, yet often exaggerated claims on a player or team’s attributes. Claiming that Ben Gordon was too short and couldn’t play next to Derrick Rose sparked perhaps the most heated debate and attention to this site. Claiming that the MLS sucked also sparked intrigue.
Basically, claiming that anyone sucked created intrigue and attention. Which isn’t a bad thing I guess, considering what I wrote I felt to be true. Unfortunately, none of these stories and even the more accurate and more logical articles garnered much attention (granted I didn’t really try to garner attention or market the site).
But what has been made clear is that the sleazier and more exaggerated the headline the more viewers. This of course isn’t something new. Everyone enjoys watching the train wreck, or in our case, photos of hot celebrities, Orton/Grossman drinking, and the video of the ferocious tackle that broke the wide receiver’s tibia in two. That’s just who we are.
There will always be room for that sort of stuff on the internet. But, at the end of the day, I still find the blogosphere, prominent sports websites (ESPN, etc.) and traditional newspaper sites to be lacking. Specifically, I note the following:
1. To ESPN, SI, ETC., I don’t care who breaks the story first. Nor do I care that you were the first to break the rumor (that ends up being false) 5 minutes before the guy on the other network would have broken the rumor. No one cares. Just wait for it. Honestly, it hurts more that the rumor of Gasol to Bulls turns out to be false, then when hearing the fact that Gasol is going to the Lakers. We are all grown up here. Finding out that Cutler was coming to the Bears 10 minutes before it could be confirmed, isn’t going to change our lives.
2. To all Chicago Newspapers. We already watched the game, there is no reason to repeat the play by play of what happened. In addition, if we missed it, we probably found out what happened on our I-Phone, ESPN, or the 100 other websites we frequent everyday in our cubicle (actually, I have an office, but I don’t want you to feel left out). Sure, you probably have to have a recap of the game somewhere for the 90 year old who still listens to games on the radio, but for the most part, we already figured out what happened. So here is a hint, tell us something we don’t know. Like why is it that Ron Turner, who appears to have a good offensive philosophy is a terrible player caller (remember the 4th and 1 handoff to Jason McKie against Carolina?). Tell us how on earth the Bulls can expect to win a championship by fielding Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose in the backcourt. Unless, we have the Bears OL as our front court, it wasn’t happening. Mugsy Boes looked at Gordon and probably thought he had a chance to take him down in the post. Break down the intricacies of the 3-4 defense or the shitty Tampa 2? Or maybe give me a light hearted Q & A with a beat reporter and one of our favorite players. You get the point.
3. I don’t care about the following. I don’t care about Urlacher’s baby mama’s troubles. Unless, some player’s off the field issues will affect how that player plays, or if they play, I don’t care that Briggs crashed his Lamborghini (or wait, yes I do, but only if there is a photo the car after the crash). I don’t care for anything that Rick Telender or Morrissey write. Or for that matter, Fred Mitchell (what exactly is his job anyway? I never understood his articles that were one paragraph long followed by the daily sightings of random people. How does this help me?). I don’t care about your analysis of X player’s contract. Unless X player’s contract is so large that it would preclude the organization from signing another player, I don’t care. Free market principles and basic economics have dictated how much Tommie Harris will get paid. There is nothing you can say that will change this or make it relevant or interesting. When event X happened 2 weeks ago, it doesn’t make any sense to write about it today. The rumored (and may I say probably untrue) Urlacher/Cutler feud happened about a month ago. Writing a story about it today is irrelevant and boring. Also stories that tend to exaggerate the most miniscule and irrelevant sub, sub-plot don’t do anything for us readers. Maybe it is a little intriguing that Urlacher supposedly called Cutler a wimp. But writing about it like you just discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, only makes it worse. Which gets me to my next point.
4. Your readers are fans. And as fans, we want one main thing from our sportswriters: writing as if you were fan of the sport you were covering. Most sportswriters today aren’t fans of the teams they write about, which is fine. But to make matters worse, they don’t seem to be fans of the sport they are covering (I am thinking about KC Johnson and basketball). Maybe they are fans, but some stupid, historic journalistic integrity/ethical code thing prevents the sportswriter’s passion or love the game to come out in their stories. Can you think of many sports writers who write from the perspective of a fan? For the most part, a lot of writers act as if they hate the sports they are writing about (I am thinking about Jay Mariotti. No that’s not fair, Mariotti is simply a terrible writer and a tabloid reporter.) (Another side bar, it sounds like JM will be returning to Chicago at the Tribune. Which can only mean one of two things: (a) people at the Tribune have no idea what they are doing; or (b) Mariotti, like the train wreck, is must read, even if we hate him). Anyway, you get my point.
Well, maybe not. Perhaps the only person that exemplifies this fan perspective writing is the Sports Guy Bill Simmons. I hate that he is a Boston fan, but love that he writes from the perspective of the fan. I may disagree with his stories, but I respect that he bleeds his teams’ colors. His stories are must read website. Morrissey, Telander, Mitchel, Pompei are not.
5. Lastly, and again just to get it off my chest. Baseball is the worst sport in the world. That’s not fair, because it’s a game. But it still sucks. Need support? The Buffalo v. Tennessee pre-season game garnered many more viewers than the highly acclaimed Red Sox Yankees regular season matchup. F’n Buffalo people!
Oh, shit, I am not done. Here is what I think about the upcoming Bears and Bulls seasons.
1. Cutler is the real deal. Olsen becomes a pro-bowler. Hester improves, but the best WR is Brandon Rideau (who probably won’t see the field unless Rashid Davis gets hurt).
2. Defense will be okay, but not great. Good passing teams will be able to rip apart our secondary. But for the most part, the defense will get the job done.
3. Bears win NFC North after a tough battle with Green Bay and Minnesota. But, they lose in conference championship game because Lovie Smith is in love with the Cover 2 and won’t blitz leaving the other team’s quarterback to rip us a part.
4. Cutler goes to pro-bowl and, in one season, becomes the best Bears QB in history of our franchise.
5. Matt Forte, if he doesn’t get hurt, goes to the pro-bowl.
6. Urlacher and Briggs get selected to the Pro-Bowl, but don’t attend.
7. If we don’t make post-season, people will soon realize that Lovie Smith is not that great of a head coach. Yet, somehow he keeps his job and they fire Ron Turner.
All right Bulls.
1. Luol Deng gets hurt and misses 30 games.
2. Derrick Rose continues his path to stardom, but still trails Devin Harris in All-Star votes.
3. Luol Deng breaks tail bone.
4. Vinny Del Negro wants the Bulls to play better defense, except that he doesn’t understand how difficult it is to play good defense when you play small.
5. Del Negro gets fired at the end of next season.
6. James Johnson is better than Luol Deng by the end of the year and if the person discussed in points 4 and 5 above were a good coach, he would play him.
7. Tyrus Thomas continues his march towards untapped potential.
8. The Bulls lose in first round of playoffs because they still don’t have a low post scorer.
9. Lebron James stays in Cleveland and Dwayne Wade stays in Miami.
All right. That’s it. Oh wait, Arsenal win the Premier League.
Good day. I said good day.