Extending a Challenge to Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow

E. Spencer Kyte@@spencerkyteSenior Analyst IJanuary 26, 2010

Recently, Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow had a great deal to say about the mixed martial arts writers at Bleacher Report during a taping of the Jordan Breen Show on Sherdog Radio.

He referred to Bleacher Report as the "Walmart of Journalism" and the work done by the members of the B/R MMA Community "toothless amateur coverage," in addition to delivering several other verbal jabs during a nearly seven-minute rant about the site.

First, let me make something perfectly clear: I am speaking for myself and myself only. Nothing contained within this piece is meant as the opinion or views of the Bleacher Report MMA Community as a whole. This is 100 percent on me...

Dear Luke,

I'd like to issue you a challenge.

As one of the "bunch of terrible writers" here at Bleacher Report, I'd like to take you up on your boast of Bloody Elbow being able to win a head-to-head competition 10 times out of 10 with someone from Bleacher Report.

Here's what I'm proposing: five topics, five days, we each pen a piece and put them up next to each other. Whoever gets the best responses—either "recs" on B/E or "Likes" on B/R—has their hand raised in victory.

Whaddya say?

As a member of this community and one who believes in the people here on Bleacher Report a great deal, I can nonetheless see some merit in the things that annoy you; some of those same things frustrate me.

That said, painting in broad strokes and dressing up your complaints as "in the best interest of the sport as a whole" doesn't fly with me.

If you're going to lament the minimal amount of money available to be made in the MMA media, know that the people you're running down are doing it for even less. I don't make a dime writing for Bleacher Report, but I do it anyway, because I love this sport and want a platform where I can express my thoughts to a group that shares my passion.

While you're putting in early mornings and late nights, I'm doing the same thing for less return. I too put in early mornings and late nights, sandwiching writing and involvement in this community around a full-time job and a family. And I'm finding the time to conduct interviews too, because I'm dedicated to not only improving myself as a writer but improving the overall quality of material here at Bleacher Report.

And I'm not alone in that fight.

While some here may only have a passing interest, there are others like myself who certainly do not, and to label the entire writing community here as a "bunch of terrible writers" is ridiculous. Because among the "army of amateurs" you describe, there are some damn fine writers.

In truth, sites like Bleacher Report are essential in helping improve the overall quality of coverage available in the media. Bloody Elbow sure isn't going to give someone an opportunity to try their hand at writing about the sport, so being able to write for a knowledgeable community like this is a great tool for aspiring writers. Everyone has to start somewhere.

I have zero training as a writer, and I only turned my focus to mixed martial arts nine months ago. Bleacher Report was one of my first stops. Since then, I'd like to think my work has improved by leaps and bounds, and it's because the great writers and community members here have helped me, as well as the opportunities Bleacher Report has given me.

I'm always amused that the admission of "sour grapes" comes well after the string of insults. We get one little offering wrapped between minutes of biased bashing of an entire group.

The funny thing, to me, about your argument against Bleacher Report is that the exact opposite effect is true. I was once told B/R wants to be the "college football" of sports sites—a feeder system where no one gets paid, but they gain exposure and the truly talented members move on to something bigger and better.

The fact that you acknowledged Derek Bolander is a perfect illustration of what Bleacher Report wants to do, and it shows that it happens.

Yes, for every Derek there are a number of people who certainly aren't able to "go pro," but that isn't the point. The point is to give guys like me a chance to develop and see if I can take the jump to the next level at some point.

You said in the interview that you scout writers; well, you should be paying closer attention to Bleacher Report. They want to be your feeder system, but you're too busy labeling what we do here as "toothless amateur coverage" to realize there is some serious talent here.

Is the UFC playing it fast-and-loose with the term "real media" in your estimation when they credential Bleacher Report? Absolutely, but that doesn't mean the one time you've interacted with a writer from B/R is a fair assessment of the talent and ability of the group as a whole or me personally.

According to you, I'm one of the "terrible writers" who is "lowering the quality of the work" in the MMA media.

Well, I'm standing at the front doors of "the Walmart of journalism" offering you a challenge.

Let me know what you want to do.

Hope to hear from you soon,

E. Spencer Kyte
Featured Columnist
Bleacher Report


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