Richard Sandomir reported in The New York Times that Jason McIntyre's The Big Lead, a blog "fixated on sports media, news and gossip," was acquired by Fantasy Sports Venture's "for a figure in the low seven figures."
I saw it coming. I knew there was nothing I could do about it. That was four years ago.
In 2006, I was part of an unusually strong rotation of weekly columnists for the then still fairly new commuter daily Metro New York; that included Jason, Chris Baldwin, and Peter Schrager (except for Chris, we all wrote sports for Penthouse, too ... that's another story.) Things were going quite well and our editor decided to have a dinner with the four of us to see if we could build upon our considerable momentum. Ideas were tossed around about weekly predictions, a radio show, televised debates, ethics roundtables and then Jason piped up and said "We should be focusing on the parties they go to, who they're dating and sleeping with and where they got drunk? That's what my friends want to know about." I guess he was right. The then US Weekly staffer continued to obsessively follow that critical type of "sports" news. Now Jason has lots of friends. But don't count Bert Sugar among them.
Just days before the purchase of The Big Lead, Big Think - a website with editorial aims vastly different that those of The Big Lead - posted an interview with boxing authority/sports historian Bert Sugar entitled "Sports Writing is a Dying Art." Sugar, who knows a thing-or-two about a thing-or-two said:
"Sports writing is almost an extinct species, or soon to be. Point being, they're writing for blogs and they don't have a discipline. Once they state a subject, they can go on. There's no space restraint. And they're writing quickly, so there's no time for thought and cerebral thinking on an article, they're just banging away. ... [W]e used to sit at bars and tell stories ... Now, the kids don't go to the bars, I don't care if they drink, have a Coke, but hear the stories. Don't go up to your room to figure out on your laptop how many free flyer miles you have, sit and hear what it is you're doing so you have a reference value. Sports did not start in 1979 with the beginning of ESPN."
What drove McIntyre wasn't love of sports but love of money. Sandomir reports that inspired by 2007 $23 million purchase of the job seeking website mediabistro.com, "McIntyre acknowledged that almost from the start, he hoped to be acquired."
The Big Lead founder then shared the secret of his success:
"I'm on the computer 14 to 15 hours a day. I have youthful energy."
14 to 15 hours a day on the computer equated with "youthful energy." If that doesn't tell you where "sports" writing has gone wrong, what does?
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