LaVar Ball Big Baller Brand

Sports Illustrated senior editor Lindsay Applebaum announced Monday that she was among the employees SI laid off earlier this month, and she did so in epic style with an on-point criticism of the modern media landscape:

(If you can’t view the clip, it spells out “I don’t have to give a shit about LaVar Ball anymore.”)

Applebaum went on to make a couple of funny follow-up tweets:

It’s worth noting that SI is far from the only outlet that’s been covering Ball (pictured above) heavily. As Ty Duffy wrote here Friday, Ball’s antics (and his envelope-pushing hot takes in particular) have drawn attention and traffic, so everyone in the sports digital media realm has covered him, including this site. There’s a difference of degrees there, of course (not everyone has gone to the level of Fox Sports, which gave Ball eight TV appearances, five podcast appearances and 105 promotional tweets in two months, fueling most of this cycle), but Applebaum’s certainly right that SI’s covered him more extensively than he deserves in a perfect world. Just about everyone has, though, probably including us.

Applebaum’s tweets here also hit on an interesting point about our modern media world; coverage decisions for TV, radio, print and the web are made more and more by what will get attention (and thus, revenue) than by what reporters and editors feel is actually a worthy story. That’s always been the case to some degree, of course (for example, in the 1890s, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer arguably started a war to sell newspapers, and “what will draw an audience” has always played a role in media coverage, but it’s perhaps further exacerbated by a world where audiences are so trackable. Everyone knows with certainty that many of the LaVar Ball stories keep getting attention, so he’ll keep getting media platforms (and being written about for what he says in those platforms) as long as that remains true, regardless of how many people in media roles can’t stand him or don’t think he’s worth paying attention to.

In any case, Applebaum certainly made her point with this exit, and it’s a good one. Not having to care about LaVar Ball seems like an excellent silver lining. But hopefully this won’t be the end of her time in sports media; Applebaum’s long produced interesting things as a reporter and editor, notably with the Washington Post and its D.C. Sports Bog before heading to SI, and she received strong praise from SI colleagues on her way out.

Here’s hoping that Applebaum somehow lands the best of both worlds; another sports media job, but one where she can safely ignore LaVar Ball.

[LindsayApplebaum.com.]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.