When you write for a sports blog, every so often, something pops up in your inbox from some guy who taped something salacious or recorded something inappropriate involving some sports figure who didn’t know he/she was being recorded. Deadspin has built an empire on these kind of tipsters submissions; often paid, though in the case of the Bo Pelini tipster, unpaid. He just thought the world should know what Bo Pelini thinks about the Nebraska fan base — and Deadspin apparently did too.
The trouble is, Pelini was clearly just pissed after a rough day, and given that stressed out people say hyperbolic, stupid things behind closed doors, it’s apparent that wasn’t how he really felt. So you’re just showing a guy during an unflattering moment. You know who else does that? US Weekly, with Kim Kardashian when she looks fat from time to time. The difference is, US Weekly doesn’t pretend to be a smart publication.
Not that these kind of recordings are always unfit for publication. Riley Cooper’s incident at the Kenny Chesney concert showed a person being bad, almost evil. But the Bo Pelini audio wasn’t some sort of Riley Cooper aggressive, racist rant that needed to be accounted for. This was just a guy who was frustrated in the break room at work. Have you ever talked shit about your boss in the coffee room? Have you ever complained about your significant other at the bar with your buddies? Exactly. And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want those expletive laden rants recorded and played for the whole world — especially if you have a wife and kids and your reputation and job are on the line.
With all the intelligence that goes into Deadspin’s expansive resumé of in-depth, one-of-a-kind sports writing, this posting begs the question: Where does all that insight and wisdom and moral aptitude go when someone emails you a secret recording of a guy screaming fuck about his job behind closed doors two years ago? How did Deadspin — the site who routinely features enlightened, progressive editorials on everything from Jim Crow and baseball to NFL player safety — not immediately understand the rather obvious context of this recording? Are they gullible enough to believe that Bo Pelini’s closed door, relatively benign name calling rant was a sincere reflection of his feelings? Do they think a 45-year-old man saying “the word ‘fuck’ a lot” is news?
He complained about the fans and his players. Workplace stuff. Behind closed doors. Have the guys at Deadspin never complained about message board critics or other blogs? I doubt it.
What I can gather from this poor judgment call on Deadspin’s part, is that either someone made a mistake and shouldn’t have signed off this audio clip, or that the air of sophistication they show the world is just a distraction for the ruthless sports dirt factory that really is their website. Here’s a site that carries itself as if it became the biggest sports blog on Earth byway of it’s articulate, cool, well-informed candor, when it’s really TMZ Sports in McSweeney’s clothing.
The big traffic from the dirt, and the clout to say profound things to millions of people. They get to have their cake and eat it too with this sports journalism shit and it’s fucking annoying. And you can quote me on that.