I am usually no fan of ESPN’s Rick Reilly. To me, like Colin Cowherd, Rick Reilly represents much of what is wrong with the sports media. Often, his arrogance and pretentiousness is enough to fill the Grand Canyon. Rick Reilly is paid $10 million over five years by ESPN to write roughly one hacked up column a week. His latest efforts have included tearing down a high schooler for standing up for his beliefs and refusing to wrestle a girl, getting a hole-in-one, publishing the e-mail addresses of those who wrote into his mailbag (they have since been removed), and writing a universally panned hatchet piece on Jimmer Fredette.
Now, is Reilly a complete sleaze? I hope not. He has written a heartwarming column about Chris Paul’s forgiveness for the men that killed his grandfather recently and another promoting Nothing But Nets to raise money for malaria nets in Africa (a truly worthy cause for which he should be applauded). But, unfortunately, the side we see of Reilly is more often the distasteful, petulant kind… especially towards bloggers…
The latest instance is a piece from Deadspin that brings together reports of an inspired speech to Colorado’s school of journalism. I don’t agree with a lot of what Deadspin does, but it’s articles like this that have continued to stand out in the blogosphere. Included in the article are the elitist quotes of a disconnected man that is rather happy with himself and his multi-million dollar writing contract. Here’s a few beauties…
“When you get out there, all I ask is that you: DON’T WRITE FOR FREE! Nobody asks strippers to strip for free, doctors to doctor for free or professors to profess for free. Have some pride! What you know how to do now is a skill that 99.9 percent of the people don’t have.”
He told graduates that journalism will always be relevant, and the “digital house of cards will fold” without trained professionals to dig up documents, check facts, interview people and write well. Bloggers who hold down couch springs in their mothers’ basements and write for a few people, he said, aren’t carrying out those duties.
“One of my rules is to write sentences that have never been uttered before in the history of the English language”
“And don’t ever use the word ‘enjoy.’ Ever.”
Hope you enjoyed those remarks.
(Excuse me while I sit in the Reilly Confessional Booth for daring to pen these words without the authoritative J School degree, insane contract, or required smugness. There, now I’m cleared to go on…)
As Deadspin observes, this is the same Rick Reilly that has recycled old columns on multiple occasions (here and here) while being paid millions and millions of dollars to write original material. I guess he must have learned that technique in journalism school, too. Unlike those few beacons of light and truth that are paid those millions of dollars to piece together old articles, lazily stereotype, or tell their hole-in-one stories, there are many people – gasp! - even… bloggers… that write great articles not for money or for audience size, but because they love sports and they love to write. Is that such a bad thing? Or should we restrict writing and everything else in life to only the professionals, the highly paid, and the elite of our society?
Oh, and one of those golden rules of Rick Reilly to never repeat a sentence that has been uttered before in the history of the English language… what do you think Rick had to say about bloggers to Newsday’s Neil Best in 2009? Again from Deadspin:
“I don’t really go on the blogs, because they don’t really like anybody. Jesus could do a column and they’d be like, ‘What the hell is with the hair?’ It’ll always be something. Charles Barkley told me a long time ago always half the people are going to hate you and half the people are going to love you. If you suddenly change who you are, the other half will hate you. I don’t really care what people holding down couch springs do or say.”
Bloggers holding down couch springs… what a new and inspired thought. At least this time, he added the fresh and enlightening “mothers’ basement” putdown that is JUST SO NEW AND RELEVANT!! I’ve never heard anyone make that joke before. You’re the first. Of course, the
same Rick Reilly who despises blogs and bloggers did the natural thing and started a blog in 2009. So far in 2011, Go Fish has a whopping 10 updates in 2011. Bam, fact check.
It doesn’t matter whether Rick Reilly cares what blogs have to say or not. Just know that there is talent, passion, and excellent writing occurring in the sports blogosphere that Reilly’s multi-million dollar contract, J School degree, and influential book about the World Sauna Championships could ever touch. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mother’s Day is almost over and I have to get back to fixing her couch springs…