What’s Wrong with the World

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August 22, 2013

Fragment on sports journalism

This is impressive journalism. (Some bad language.) It tells a story vividly. Its characters, mainly the chief one, are portrayed ably. Some quotations ring with summary boldness, abbreviations in taut phrasing of the wider pictures shown to us, both in word and in photography. The web design is likewise superlative.

In short, this is the sort of article that restores the reputation of sports journalism. Well, that and this sort of article. The normal run of sports journalism, I fear, debases itself more often than not. It crowns banality and idle conjecture, on matters of immediate reporting, with tendentious sanctimony on matters of wider social and political importance. TV, radio and internet all contribute to the problem. Descriptions of actual baseball games, or final rounds of golf tournaments, reach far too easily for cliché and catchphrase; while predictions of future seasons, playoff matchups, player careers, etc., substitute vapid bluster for careful historical comparison. Nor should it fail to be noted that even the worst political columnist can rarely get away with the kind of unsupportable assertion, premise-smuggling, and insularity that all too frequently characterizes a sports journalist’s assays into social commentary.

The best day-to-day work in this business is actually produced by blogger-style upstarts without legacy institutions backing them. Here’s another example, on the same topic as I linked above: the extraordinary hitting ability of Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

But all that fun stuff aside, there will always be room for long-form storytelling, where memorable people and memorable events are sketched proficiently, like this article, “The Losses of Dan Gable.”