I write for Bleacher Report, the fastest maturing sports site on the Internet.
Perhaps apparent only to those who have been readers for some time, Bleacher Report is shifting focus from babe galleries and baseless pontifications—a huge percentage of lower-tier writers have been purged in the last six months—and turning an eye towards tight reporting and introspective columns.
Slowly, but surely. Not there yet. But surely.
So with an eye on that trajectory, I am sure many will attempt to discredit what I’m about to say—and, of course, I recognize the inherent irony in the subject matter.
But you’re only shooting the messenger.
Recently, a reporter wrote a brutal character evaluation of one of the nation’s top college football prospects. Turns out, that “reporter” never interviewed or met with that prospect one-on-one to form these sprawling conclusions. That reporter, more or less, sat at his desk, synthesized everyone’s opinions but his own and typed up whatever tough stuff ventured into his brain.
That reporter has since gained a name for himself. He writes for a big publication and stands in the shadow of a true giant—but his new fame was really wrought from the heated debates around the merit of his evaluation and, more importantly, his appropriateness. Anyone studying the NFL draft surely has at least heard echoes of his name by now. He was not famous before—now, relatively, he is. Because he took a dump on someone.
In essence, he gained fame no differently than Snooki. He did something shocking, everyone talked about it and now everyone knows his name. Snooki’s book sells for the same reasons as the additional copies of that reporter’s draft guide will: the “I just want to read this thing with my own eyes” excuse. Either way, you bought a copy.
I’ve thought a lot about how we can make people like Snooki go away. They offer nothing to us but the ability to raise our eyebrows. Who needs that? I can walk down the streets of New York and San Francisco and have my eyebrows raised the entire time—for free, on my own time.
Why let someone else induce my curiosity with drivel?
And that, right there, is where we—the viewers, the fans, the readers—need to step up.
When we’re chatting at a bar and hear about the really shocking antics of some talentless wonder, just nod and change the subject. End the cycle. Don’t ask for details, retweet, bring it up at the watercooler, forward a link or—though the focus wasn’t on the reporter—write a column. It’s hard because we love to have our opinions out there, but it’s the only way the idiocy stops.
Shift the discussion to something meaningful.
We shouldn’t necessarily care about “justice”—whatever that means—for Snooki and her ilk. We should focus on averting a need to deal with these parasites in the future. We should own the fact that we are why that noise enters our lives. We engage it. The power to make the idiocy go away exists in our keyboards, mouses, eyes and ears. Change the channel, click to another page, tune that noise out and the outlets will stop covering the circus.
Then we can go back to the parts of life and the game that matter—like, well, life and the game. But we have to start it.