Bissinger's Buzz-Kill

Wow. I didn't think there was any sports-twit more irritating than Bob Costas, but along comes non-astronaut auteur Buzz Bissinger, on Bob Costas' show last night, blowing a gatekeeper-gasket at the very existence of unwashed, non-jocksniffing bloggers like Deadspin's Will Leitch (who is actually a very good writer in addition to running one of the most successful sports blogs on the planet). First segment here; then watch the mid-life crisis unfold in real time:

Leitch reacts here; world piles on. As always, few things are more hilarious than watching the defenders of a deeply degraded form (newspaper sportswriting? Are you kidding me?) bust veins about modernity they understand not, while the kids laugh and laugh....

I'd never really heard of Bissinger (though he's the author of the famous Friday Night Lights), until I picked up a copy of the International Herald Tribune on vacation a couple weeks back and beheld the single most rancid column you will probably ever read about the Olympic Games. Sample:

There is only one way left to improve the Olympics: to permanently end them.

True, in the world of sports, any plan that puts morality over money is unlikely to happen. Commissions are formed only once the problem is over (see Major League Baseball) and the cheaters will always find another angle -- you can bet that some lab somewhere is working on the design of a new steroid undetectable to testing (see every professional sport and many "amateur" ones). The loftier the rose-colored rhetoric, which in the Olympics has become an Olympian growth industry, the worse the underlying stink. And this is an institution that is rotted in so many different ways.

Bissinger then goes on to list every (unrelated) bad thing that's happened at Olympiads over the past 40 years, and concludes:

Would some athletes become innocent victims with the loss of the Olympics? Yes. But it would be nothing close to the number of innocent victims killed in Darfur with Chinese-supplied weapons, or in Iraq during the American occupation.

Sounds like someone forgot to take his performance-enhancing sedatives!

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    More from the greatest blog in the world (present company excluded, of course) here.

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    Would some athletes become innocent victims with the loss of the Olympics? Yes. But it would be nothing close to the number of innocent victims killed in Darfur with Chinese-supplied weapons, or in Iraq during the American occupation.

    And you dare mock somebody who makes insightful comments like this?

  • ||

    Buzz was the blogger of his day. From the Wikipedia entry on FNL:

    The negative reaction to the playoff situation was exacerbated by the book, and many residents of Odessa received the book with responses ranging from mild indignation to threats of physical violence aimed at the book's author.

  • ||

    Braylon Edwards is a dignified man.

  • PC||

    "I didn't think there was any sports-twit more irritating than Bob Costas..."

    There isn't. I will put Bob Costas's play by play of the Livan Hernandez/Atlanta Braves playoff game, the one with the 20 ft strikezone and Costas's Cuban Soap Opera, against any other and win hands down. I hand the tape out to bulimic people so they don't have to use their finger.

  • PR||

    Buzz doesn't understand the internet. From his wiki page:

    Based on his appearance on Bob Costas' HBO show, Bob Costas NOW he really really dislikes blogs and thinks they are worthless, and those that write them are "full of shit." He appears to be mentally unstable.

    Bissinger is married to Lisa C. Smith and has three sons. He divides his time between homes in Philadelphia and the Pacific Northwest. He also rents a room in Bob Costas's basement to start up the famous website hotchickswithdouchebags.com.

    Most recently Bissinger appeared on an HBO's Bob Costas On The Record to discuss the evergrowing sports media landscape. Bissinger then proceeded to make an ass out of himself and lose all credibility what so ever. His journalist tag has now been revoked.

    Also, Big Daddy Balls, in an as-yet unverified blog post, alleged that Bissinger "fucks horses."

  • ||

    Looks like Matt missed 'NOFX: backstage' to record this.

  • ballsdeep||

    Why is he making fun of my perfectly respectable Indian name?

  • PR||

    If you don't know the difference between a post and a comment then you're probably not qualified to pontificate about blogs

    It's like being too stupid to know the difference between an editorial and a letter to the editor

  • ||

    Matt, first time I think I have ever disagreed with you over something.
    Bissinger is right about the Olympics. In the name of promoting unity and understanding, they do the opposite, nationalism and revenge.
    Some of the sports are ridiculous,(schronozied swimming, gymnasitic with a ball and tape, "womens" gymnastics when the average age is 14, and they look 10). They practically all cheat and who cares about 2/3 of the sports anyway.
    Plus how much of our tax money goes to support this unwatched stuff?
    It is time for the Olympics to die.

    PS Sorry to see, with you in Washington DC, that there will never be another Ken Layne and the Corvids album. I saw you guys at the King, King in Hollywood.

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    What I find really sad is the notion that everyone who write a blog is somehow responsible for the content of every other blog in existence. What part of "Most of it is crap, but not all, like any other instance of people expressing their opinions." don't they understand? And what do they mean to do about it? Restrict people from writing blogs?


    And as far as Mr. Bissinger goes, it's difficult to take a man seriously when his name sounds like something Stan Lee made up, then rejected as sounding silly.

  • ||

    I can't too impassioned about defending the Olympics from BB either. Basically any "profit" an Olympics city makes is a net transfer of local taxpayer money to a cozy connected network of business elites. Sort of like crooked stadium deals writ large. And the less free the country is the worse the racket, so you can imagine how bad the Olympics are for the average Chinese taxpayer. Ordinary people are being made to sacrifice time, labor and money for the greater glory of China. Bureaucrats benefit. Nothing very inspiring about that.

    Still, I haven't seen anyone make as big an ass of themselves as Bissinger did since I can't remember when. That was Lee Siegel like.

  • Sam Grove||

    Here's what I recommend you do about the Olympics: ignore them. That's what I do.

  • Kolohe||

    Plus how much of our tax money goes to support this unwatched stuff?

    AFAIK, as long as the Olympics are not in the US: zero.

    I think this is why, if I am remembering correctly, when the first wave of corporate sponsors came in the 80's, there was lamentation because we were the only country who 'didn't support our athlete's'

  • ||

    The International Olympic Committee is a bunch of corrupt, totalitarian thugs who prey on the young and impressionable. And Mormons.

    And, having said that, is there a maximum IQ limit for sportswriters? What a bunch of hyperventilating dimwits.

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    hahahah ok ballsdeep that was the funniest thing I've ever read on Reason.

  • Matt Welch||

    Sorry to see, with you in Washington DC, that there will never be another Ken Layne and the Corvids album. I saw you guys at the King, King in Hollywood.

    Do not be so sure, oh rare and loyal fan! Do you have your copy of Transcontinental yet? And there will be an (admittedly far less countrified) song collection from lil' ol' me (and the same basic band, minus Layne) coming out one of these months.

  • Seitz||

    Do not be so sure, oh rare and loyal fan!

    Some of us still feel letdown over your decision to skip right over Chicago on your last world tour.

  • reader||

    Matt Welch! I believe he is the friendliest and most laid back Reason staffer on this blog.

  • Matt Welch||

    OK, that's enough.

  • ||

    Buzz needs eyebrows.
    That is all.

  • Justin Slotman||

    I think the only thing Deadspin's successful at is generating clicks. Which is does by focusing on stupid gossip and idiotic ESPN talking heads and not anything approaching interesting sports discussion. If all I knew of sports blogs was Deadspin I would hate sports blogs too.

    And the Olympics are the world's greatest sporting event. If you can't get excited for badminton and handball every four years I don't know what to do with you.

  • ||

    . . . and small bore rifle.
    50 meters of pure action.

  • ||

    I thought Friday Night Lights was a great book. Bissinger also wrote "Three Nights in August," which wouldn't have been very good except that it was about the St. Louis Cardinals. (For some incomprehensible reason they're making a movie out of it, and it seems likely that the movie's only saving grace will be that it's also about the Cardinals.)

    But man, he does seem completely unhinged here (also classless and childish, but mostly unhinged). He obviously doesn't know much about sports blogs except that they're transmitted on a series of tubes, and his comments to Leitch didn't amount to much more than a very profane "All you damn kids are no good! And stay off of my lawn!"

  • Kevin B. O\'Reilly||

    I've to agree with the other fellows above: The Olympics suck in just about every way -- as entertainment, as politics, as business, as government programs. See that, Buzz. Some of us nogoodniks in the blogosphere agree with you.

  • Damian P.||

    You really, *really* don't want KSK making fun of you:

    http://kissingsuzykolber.uproxx.com/2008/04/man-oh-man-do-i-love-to-f%e2%80%94k-horses.html

  • ||

    FNL the book was horrid. People kept telling me how great it was but I read it and it was nothing but a Marxist analysis of West Texas Football. Could barely finish it. The movie was slightly better because it didn't have any of Bissinger's juvenile socio-economic opining. But the real star of the FNL franchise is the Television Series, which functions as a complete refutation of the novel. And I like Aimee Teegarden's yams.

  • ||

    I think the only thing Deadspin's successful at is generating clicks. Which is does by focusing on stupid gossip and idiotic ESPN talking heads and not anything approaching interesting sports discussion. If all I knew of sports blogs was Deadspin I would hate sports blogs too.



    The only thing ESPN is successful at is drawing viewers, and they do it with faux-controversialist talking heads, trumped-up pseudo-sociological shit like Outside The Lines, and just about anything else other than detailed analysis of my favorite sports.

    I only watch during college football season, and even then, I only watch games and pregame shows. The rest is consistently awful.

    Deadspin, OTOH, is at least funny sometimes.

  • Steve Smith||

    Sorry to see, with you in Washington DC, that there will never be another Ken Layne and the Corvids album. I saw you guys at the King, King in Hollywood.

    Do not be so sure, oh rare and loyal fan! Do you have your copy of Transcontinental yet? And there will be an (admittedly far less countrified) song collection from lil' ol' me (and the same basic band, minus Layne) coming out one of these months.


    I thought Ken burned the original tapes of "Transcontinental" after hearing Sgt. Pepper for the first time. I'm still waiting for the release of "Bush Lied", which I hear is a decent but watered-down bootleg of the now-legendary second CD of the Corvids.

    Having not seen "Costas Live," I won't comment on Bissinger's rant, but FNL is one of the great sports books of all time, along side Money Ball and Fever Pitch, and while Bissinger's solution to the propaganda vehicle and government porkfest that is the modern Olympics is silly, his criticism seems well-taken.

  • ||

    "I only watch during college football season, and even then, I only watch games and pregame shows. The rest is consistently awful."

    Damn, matt. You pay for the whole year, but never watch a single game of ncaa hoops? You are hard core, bro.

  • Doug||

    Two words, Buzz: inside voice.

    Interesting that Bissinger comes on the show ostensibly to criticize the profanity, obnoxiousness, and loud-mouthedness of sports bloggers . . . yet goes out of his way to come off as the most profane, obnoxious, and loud-mouthed person on stage. Maybe it was deliberate, like he was trying to be ironic, or something. Yet somehow it's hard for me to muster that much faith in his intelligence.

  • ||

    Deadspin is hilarious -- Big Daddy Drew is my hero -- but it's dispiriting to read the comments after the posts. Sure, most are amusing and clever, but they tow the Deadspin line without fail. This is a problem with the entire "Gawker" online empire -- comments are edited and dissenting views are incredibly, incredibly rare.

  • ||

    they tow the Deadspin line

    TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOET OTE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE OTE OT EOET OTE OTO ET OE OTE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE OTE TOE TOE TEO TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TOE TEO TOE TOE TOE

  • dammit||

    the video's been removed under the terms of service catchall.

  • ||

    So... you're saying it's "toe" then?

  • ||

    Damn, matt. You pay for the whole year, but never watch a single game of ncaa hoops? You are hard core, bro.



    I don't pay for any of it. I don't even have a TV. I watch it either at my friend's houses or at bars. I'd buy a TV and cable if the product were better, or if I had more time.

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