You've probably heard of the sports site Deadspin.com by now. Sports enthusiasts have known about this semi-under-the-radar site from Gawker Media for years - according to Wikipedia, since its launch in 2005, Deadspin has managed to accrue almost 600 million visitors. It wasn't until January 2013 that Deadspin hit the mainstream airwaves, though, upon breaking the big story that University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend didn't really exist. So, one might assume, this Deadspin place must be a real beacon of real news and journalistic integrity to the sports-loving community!
Well, actually, that was one of just a couple of times Deadspin really did raise itself to a standard of actual journalism. Deadspin is NOT a journalistic website, and it's writers, for the most part, don't even pretend otherwise. The site founder was Will Leitch, one of the most frustrating sportswriters on the planet. Generally, I like Leitch's work a lot - Leitch is one of the very few sportswriters who doesn't carry a preening air of self-righteousness when it comes to discussing steroids, and is a real voice of fans when he insists that fans have made their peace with cheating athletes. He had the guts to call bullshit on the Olympics and insist that all our sports-cheering instincts should have us rooting against the United States. On the downside, Leitch is a whiny, bitchy purist when it comes to sports loyalties - he insists it's wrong for a fan to turn against his team if his team moves out of its city. Also, despite being a pretty informed guy, he insists on making horrid jokes about how this or that black athlete isn't really black. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he writes shit like that, but he doesn't seem to notice that people better educated than me aren't granting him the same courtesy. Leitch is from the small town of Mattoon, Illinois, and his attempts at humor at the expense of race make him look like a stereotypical redneck.
Yes, Deadspin does frequently post recaps of the day, but those aren't in-depth covers. In his book God Save the Fan, Leitch insisted that Deadspin was started as a site to bring sports back to fans. Perusing Deadspin, it's easy to think he meant casual fans. You know, fans who will only ever go to games to be seen, and not care anything about the team they claim to follow. Deadspin does highlight videos more than real coverage, and a lot of what they give you consists of sports-related anecdotes, rumors, and videos from Youtube. The stories come from anonymous tips, readers, and other sports blogs.
The result is whole stories that read like bullet points. Today is July 27, 2013, and the stories for today include "Royals' David Lough Forgets What a Hit Looks Like," "Usain Bolt Makes his Entrance on a Rocket, Because he can," and "Debris Kicked Up by Rally Car, Hits Man in Crotch." There's also a pro-weed commercial shown at a NASCAR race, something about never being Royals, and some ridiculous waste of time which takes you to three links with stories about Tim Tebow. (All three links, by the way, are to posts in the comment section of that same "article.") All of this came from the last two days. In other words, Deadspin is stuff for sports fans who never left their entitled college douchebro phase.
The shame of this is that Deadspin can give us some truly useful information when the writers believe in what they're writing about. It's one of the few sports website to repeatedly speak out against the use of public money for sports funding, and their articles on the subject contain a lot of detail and thought. They've also traced the amount of yearly Sportscenter coverage devoted to every sport, and ESPN is one of their frequent targets. Their semi-annual features can also be just plain fun to read: It's becoming a Deadspin tradition to mock every individual NFL team before the season begins, and they also had a series of features complaining about baseball stadiums.
Deadspin isn't helped out by its format. There's no article archive or index. It started out as a plain, regular old blog, and even though the layout was changed earlier this year, you still have to repeatedly hit links in other articles to get to a subject you want to read about.
Deadspin is great when it's good. But it keeps attention through more quantity than quality. Everything it does is done better by Bleacher Report.