I was listening to the Play Ball podcast that went online 6/17, and it got me thinking. They interviewed Christine Brennan, a columnist from USA Today, for about 30 minutes, and it was fantastic. She talked about her dad, Title IX, our need to support women's pro sports, covering the Olympics, discrimination in golf, and other issues.
While I enjoyed the interview, and agreed with a vast majority of what she said, I'm going to exercise my right to respectfully disagree with her on two points.
She is quite adamant regarding re-instating softball into the Olympics, and I would love to see that as well. However, I have to disagree with her assessment that baseball does not belong in the Olympics. She claims that, because if its association with performance enhancing drugs, it should not be included. Here's a direct quote from her blog:
"Baseball deserved the ax mostly due to a word you've probably heard: steroids."What a slap in the face to the clean guys worldwide who've participated! And while it's true that softball has a perfect record so far regarding testing, she seems to imply that the likelihood of steroid use follows gender lines. I don't buy it. And if we're going to throw out entire sports because of the sins of a few participants, then Track and Field needs a closer look. Those athletes, from both genders, have had their fair share of issues with PEDs. (To be clear, I am not implying at all that Track and Field be tossed from the Olympics; I am merely using it as an example.)
So enough on that topic. The other topic that got my undies in a bunch was a 3 minute (more or less) rant regarding blogging. Apparently, some blogger somewhere accused some athlete of using performance enhancing drugs. (I am aware of the blog post in question, but I didn't really read it carefully; I pretty much started reading it, rolled my eyes, and closed it. I don't want to address it specifically because it doesn't really matter.) I believe the main-stream media may have ran with the story, or at least linked to the blog, but I'm not entirely sure.
The bunching-undies part comes when she asserts that we should only read blogs from "legitimate, trained journalists" and that we should never pay attention to "a guy or woman in their pajamas in their basement." (Hey, that's me!) She goes on to say, "they can certainly have an opinion, but do we want to waste one moment of our time on earth reading those opinions?"
Wow. Now I admit that no one is going to confuse this blog with a "real" sports blog -- I consider myself more of a "sport fan experience" blogger -- so I don't think she was really talking about me and my peers. But there are plenty of "real" sports blogs out there that I do read and enjoy. Some of them are from trained journalists and some of them are not. However, though I don't exactly know the backgrounds and experiences of some of the "untrained" bloggers, many of them have established pretty credible reputations - I can tell they do their due diligence with research and analysis. I applaud them and will continue to read them. Being "untrained" does not equate to being "un-valuable."
While I agree that it's very dangerous territory for someone to throw out unfounded, unresearched, and unsourced accusations, especially with such an explosive subject as steroid use, I am willing to say that 99.9% of blog readers understand the difference between a credible source and an opinion. And to imply that I shouldn't waste my time reading them is akin to saying that I shouldn't waste my time chatting about sports with my co-workers around the water cooler.
I believe people watch sports for two reasons: to be entertained while the game is on, and to talk about it afterwards. Blogging is really a sophisticated way to have that water-cooler chat with more thought and a wider audience. If it's acceptable to say "I think so-and-so sucks" around the water cooler, it's perfectly acceptable to say it in your blog. If people don't like it, they'll stop reading.
The danger comes in that once opinions are out there, that bell can't be unrung. So the good ones look up the numbers, think things through, and choose their works carefully. The bad ones throw the spaghetti on the wall to see if it'll stick. As readers, it's our responsibility to keep our B.S. meters on and working. If we come across something that's just there to get attention, or worse, outright wrong, we should just ignore it. And it's the main-stream media's responsibility to choose links to blogs with the same care they use for writing their own stories.
So, those are the opinions of a girl who's usually in her sweats in her basement saying whatever she feels like on her blog. And I hope no one takes it too seriously.
I want to re-iterate that I thought Ms. Brennan's interview was terrific. She really had some thought-provoking opinions.
I also want to heap tons of praise on the Play Ball podcast. It is "ESPN's podcast by women, for women and the men who want to understand their women better," and it is a blast to listen to. Amanda and Melissa conduct great interviews, talk sports with intelligence, and have a bunch of fun. I listen to it every week. You should too.