Updated: Nov 8, 2019
One of the greatest reading experiences of my life came when, oh so many years ago, when I was still a reporter and very much in the nascent stages of my professional career, I happened across a professional football humor blog called Kissing Suzy Kolber featuring a column called 10 yards of awkwardness penned by a fellow named Big Daddy Drew conducting pretend interviews with NFL players about their teammates’ penis sizes, bathing habits and other awkward and ridiculous questions designed to make the subject squirm and observers giggle.
And giggle I did. Like a child. Thirteen years later Big Daddy Drew, who dropped the ‘Big Daddy’ and has become a writer of some renown under his birth name of Drew Magary, became just the latest of a list of fantastic writers who left the sports-and-related-stuff website Deadspin.com, which launched in 2006 and grew to become a cultural touchstone, in the last few weeks over an edict from its new parent company (I prefer the term corporate overlords; blithering idiots might be a more apropos designation).
Today, Deadspin.com stories are simply tagged with Deadspin staff bylines, and commenting, which was once one of the highlights of the site, has simply been disabled after angry readers started posting the personal email address of the venture-cap vulture placed in charge of the site.
Rather than heeding the readers, who had built Deadspin from a smartass sports blog into a media heavyweight over the years, the corporate overlords did what corporate overlords often do. Rather than admit error, they doubled down on their stubbornness, making zombie Deadspin a shell of its former self.
(By the way, this dumbing-down and cheapening of legacy media products is happening all across the digital universe. A corporation buys a down-on-its-luck media property, then cuts costs and sells it again, boasting increased efficiency and putting the debt used to acquire the property on the property’s back rather than on the back of the parent company. It’s a shady and shitty business practice that relies on consumers not being aware of the media landscape and simply consuming media products because they say ‘Sports Illustrated’ pon them or something similar. For instance, that particular title was just sold to a venture-cap firm. They promptly laid off HALF the staff soon after purchase. Yet, the product still exists in watered-down version, fed by a network of ‘correspondents’ who are paid little or nothing for their contributions. And we all know that in life, you get what you pay for.)
Last month, Deadspin editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell stepped down after being given an edict to stick to sports, after too many articles upsetting right-wing supporters of U.S. Baby-in-Chief Donald Trump appeared on the site. Deputy editor Barry Petchesky was fired a short time after for not heeding the edict, and most of the site’s editorial employees quit soon after that.
At its peak, Deadspin was the place to find tongue-in-cheek and smartass sports and social commentary. The site’s motto was ‘sports news withjout access, favor or discretion,’ and they acted accordingly, with such features as ‘Why your Hometown Columnist Sucks,’ ‘The Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo,’ and the annual ‘Hater’s Guide to the Williams & Sonoma Catalogue,’ becoming regular features at different times over the years.
Now, the sportswriting dream team of Petchesky, Magary, Tom Ley, Albert Burneko and many, many more, will have to find new places for their voices to be heard, and we are all worse off for it. This week, the embattled moron who set off this whole shitstorm (alleged moron; he hasn’t yet been convicted of the offence) Paul Maidment stepped down, but the damage had been done and Deadspin traffic has cratered.
This outlet is one place educated media consumers can look for independent sports commentary, but lacking Deadspin’s resources and its talent, we will, unfortunately, start slowly, but with time, expect to see more and more stuff.
Oh, and F G/O Media.