Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hot Takes and Modern Sports

A member of the Sports Illustrated staff named Andy Benoit tweeted that he's not a fan of women's sports....in general.  The text of his now deleted tweet reads:

Not women's soccer……women's sports in general not worth watching. 

When asked to clarify, he doubled down on the stupid.

Women are every bit as good as men in general, better in many aspects, their sports are just less entertaining. TV ratings agree, btw.

From what I understand, Andy Benoit is not so much a journalist as he is an opinion writer who dabbles in journalism.  His Twitter feed and his writing in general suggests that his specialty is "hot takes".

The hot take is well defined in Tomas Rios's "A Brief History of Bad Sports Writing", which I suggest you read.  He writes about Dick Young, the iconoclast sports writer who worked so hard at demolishing the myth making sports writers of the era before his that in his own mind he became the judge of all that was Good and Decent (TM), and as much of an old fraud as the myth-makers himself.  Rios writes:

The most obvious legacy Dick Young left sports writing is the idea that it’s a sports writer’s job to serve as the self-appointed moral arbiter of sports. The hot take was Dick’s baby, and it’s grown into the vile thing we now know it to be.

Most of the Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith puffery you'll see on ESPN falls strongly under the hot take category.  As someone once wrote about sports writers, the most important thing in sports writing is to have an opinion and express it, regardless of if there's any reflection behind that opinion.  In which case, Mr. Benoit falls strongly into that tradition.

But there's something else going on.  In a just world, his own colleagues would be looking for rope for the hanging, but that's not happening.  Why?  My own opinion is that the Benoits of this world get away with it because sports departments are 95 percent male and 98 percent of the sports section is devoted to the coverage of male sports, with women occasionally showing up in the role of supportive wife/girlfriend.  (Take the AJC, for instance.)

There is something that stinks about the masculinity as defined by our very toxic patriarchal culture that dismisses the contributions of half of humanity.  My own hot take is that the axe has to be taken to those roots before we can even start to solve that problem.  Then, and only then, will the Benoits of the world be limited to handing out mimeographed screeds on street corners. 

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