Interesting column from fellow Holy Cross grad Dan Shaughnessy here. I know it’s popular to rip “Shank” or “CHB” but I’d like to use his column as a jumping off point to talk about my side of this.
PatsPropaganda is exactly the kind of site he’s talking about when he says:
“It turns out that fans love reading other fans. And, naturally, they all love their teams. What a surprise. Now they expect everyone else to love a team. It’s the wild west of fanboys.”
As I state on the front page, I am a homer. I love the Patriots. I want the Patriots to win. Does that mean I can’t be critical of the team? No. In fact, most of what I do is trying to find out what the weaknesses are, where they’re lacking, and how they can improve. I’m critical without trying to provoke my readers. My goal is to find what the real problems are, not just spout off lines like “they need a pass rusher!” or “they need a deep threat!” or “the playcalling sucks!”
Does being a fan mean I can’t tell the story of the team or game? I don’t think so. I’m a partisan, but I can see what unfolds on the field. And I think it actually makes for good entertainment. I’m riding the ups and downs of the season. I do care. And people writing about things they’re passionate about tend to be better than people writing about a something they don’t care about.
Where is it written in the law of the universe that sports reporting must be non-biased? That law certainly doesn’t exist in political news where the rooting interests of major news outlets are crystal clear. And politics are more important to a society than sports, right?
Why is it different in sports? Aren’t sports meant to be fun? And maybe perhaps it’s a little more fun and interesting to read a writer who is going through the ups and downs with the team?
I may be a biased homer but it doesn’t mean I’m blind. I’m not saying that all sports journalists should have a rooting interest and there should certainly always be a place for great writers like Shaughnessy (love him or hate him) to write the stories of the games and teams. But there should also be a place in sports for the emotional accounts and reports from those who are elated after wins and dejected after losses. Those who do care.
There are enough outlets now. If readers don’t want to read my Patriots-centric view they can go somewhere else and get plenty of non-partisan accounts.
Now, I’m not advocating some sunshines and rainbows blog, about how the New England Patriots can do no wrong. But there are plenty of writers out there, local and national, who think the Patriots can do no right, that they are cheaters and arrogant, and as I see it those kind of hatchet jobs are far more egregious than any take that might give the Patriots the benefit of the doubt.
Now, where the line gets crossed for writers like Shaughnessy is when he simply writes to antagonize the fan base of a team. That’s the same thing he’d scold fan boy bloggers like me for doing, only in the opposite direction - as if I were writing real propaganda to simply praise the team endlessly even after ugly losses or bad decisions.
So, yeah, I get it. “I only write the story”… “I don’t care who wins”… that’s all fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to kick the fans when their team is down. And Shaughnessy does care… that you read what he writes.
Just because I might be more consolatory after a loss, doesn’t mean what I write doesn’t have value. Really, those are the days I get the most reads and site visits of all. Fans don’t need some writer to take a day-after dump all over their team after a loss, they feel bad enough.
I think there is real journalistic value to responsible fanboy bloggers like myself. But the difference between me and Shaughnessy is that I don’t care who reads what I write. I don’t post things just to get hits on my site.
I pretty much sat the whole Aaron Hernandez arrest out and haven’t posted a thing on it since Belichick’s news conference about it. That was one of the biggest sports stories of the year and I could’ve landed a ton of traffic if I pursued it as hard as I could’ve.
No, this is a football blog about the Patriots. I love the Patriots, even though they are not a perfect team. I want them to get better. I want them to win.
Let’s be honest, this is the golden age for the Patriots. Someday we’ll talk about how amazing this run has been and I know that I’ve enjoyed every moment of it and I’m proud of the work I’ve done here and the response from readers who connect with what I write.
But don’t tell Shaughnessy, he only cares about telling the story, and making sure his articles piss you off enough to read them and talk about them.
I’ll leave the last word to the great Jerry Thornton: