3.17.2005

the differences between the page 2 sports writers

i've been a long time fan of espn.com's page 2. for those of you who don't know, page 2 is espn's attempt to...you know what, i really don't know what the hell page 2's purpose is. my guess is that it is espn's attempt to reach a larger fan base (i.e. females) who are interested in sports, but don't necessarily need the intense type of sports news such as the status of injuries for players or the terms of an NBA scrubs salary negotiations. and from what i've read, page 2 is actually far more successful than the rest of espn's website, save the fantasy sport's section. if you've never read it, the columnists seem to take a less conventional view of sports than your typical sports columnists. they incorporate pop culture references, they're a zillion times more critical of players and the sports institution in general, and often veer into ancillary sports topics such as how the fan experiences the game. i'm sure someone in their marketing department would say that they provide the standard edgy term of an "irreverent" look at sports (is there a term out there that is misused more than "irreverent"? if you read between the lines of all the columns of page 2, you'll find the exact opposite).

anyways, all of this is just prelude for what i really want to talk about and that is comparing two of page 2's most prolific and i'm guessing popular columnists, bill simmons and jim caple. right now, caple is running a series where stays on campuses of teams that are in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. right now he's at the u of illinois, who is currently ranked #1 in the country. basically, caple will be staying in dorms, frathouses, and partying with college kids as they go through whatever rituals they go through in rooting for their team to win the big dance. first of all, this was already done in the drew barrymore movie, never been kissed. secondly and more importantly, it is as pathetic as it sounds. here we have a perfectly respectable man trying to recapture his youth by simply engaging in rituals that we all know to be trite, insignificant, and even more importantly, reinforcing of all sorts of oppressive ideologies. seriously, is this any different from that a-hole who buys a porsche when he turns 45? actually it's worse since, at least the a-hole who bought the porsche has a car in the end, which is something that we can use. caple will end up with a big hangover and probably herpes. i realize that story choices are not always driven by the writer and sometimes are forced upon the writer by editors. however, if you look at his body of work, you'll see that it's a typical style for him, writing about himself. the dead giveaway is that most of his stories include a picture of himself.

anyways, my long winded point is that caple represents the worst in this kind of "edgy writing". the kind that purports to be a different angle on something, when in actuality it is the same thing recycled through the lens of "what about me?" i'm sure that in caple's and his editor's head, they're thinking that they're being just like hunter s. thompson (not surprisingly, another page 2 columnist, or i guess that since he blew his head off, that i should say, a former page 2 columnist), that somehow they're providing america with an inside look at a phenomenon that we take for granted, and consequently providing us with a new way of looking at ourselves. complete bullshit. college kids party because that is what they're taught to do, and they especially party hard when one of their teams are good because it provides a socially acceptable excuse for acting like idiots. i don't mean to just harp on jim caple, because there are plenty of hacks who pass themselves off as journalists out there, but as someone who reads page 2 a lot, this last stunt was the proverbial straw that broke my camel's back.

anyways, a nice contrast is bill simmons, also known as the sports guy. from his picture, you would think that simmons and caple are the same guy (remember, to us people of color, all you white people look alike). and on the surface, you might think that they write kinda in the same style...very heavy on the first person, very heavy on opinions, and very heavy on things unrelated to mainstream sports. however, the big difference, is that bill simmons knows that it's all just bs. he makes references to popular culture because he understands that his audience are equally as interested in sports movies as sports. he gives his strong opinions freely because he knows that his opinion is no better or worse than yours, mine, or mike lupica's. he understands that while sports is important to us, it is among a host of things that are important to us. truly, his writing style fits the irreverent label that is so coveted in areas like this. his take on the ncaa tournament is infinitely more entertaining and insightful. so i guess what i'm saying is that all whities aren't the same.

however, the other page 2 columnists, such as jason whitlock (who's a brother, by the way) who don't treat their readers like morons, are underrated.

on a different note, i've been watching the steroids hearings while i'm typing this. holy cow. this shit is completely fascinating. the player's union is not kidding around, you break ranks, then you are out forever, and they are freezing out canseco. also, you should note that canseco is the only person giving real answers to the questions, while everyone else is just being a douchebag about it. curt schilling may be a warrior, but he's a gigantic douchebag who thinks that he knows more about being a good person than everyone else. and why does mark mcgwire say, "i'm not going to talk about the past", as if the past has nothing to do with today. what a gigantic douchebag! and god why is canseco's lawyer letting him talk? and when did raffy get so tan? and what's with sosa's 40's black guy haircut? anyways, i will have a lot to say about this, but i need to watch the rest of it and digest it before i give you a better report.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what i learned on capitol hill today:

1 - mcgwire is a douchebag. he should have just admitted using steroids and been done with it. he came across as conflicted and weak.

2 - sosa never broke "american or dominican laws" because steroids are not illegal in the dominican. he could've been popping horse pills all winter long at home. it's pretty stupid to look at pictures of him and mcgwire in the late 90s and think that they weren't on steroids.

3 - raffy palmeiro is one damn handsome man. has there ever been a more handsome man in baseball? i think not. by the way, i actually believe him. i have a picture with him from a couple of years ago. he's about my size - not a big guy - but yes, stunningly handsome.

4 - curt schilling annoys the crap out of me. i love him on the field, but he spends too much time kissing ass and trying to advance the cause of curt schilling. is there any doubt that he'll be jackassing on espn when his baseball career is over?