"Stick to Sports" narrative killed one of the most prominent sports websites of the past decade
Not sticking to sports: I am going to miss Deadspin
Last week Deadspin, one of the premier sports blogs over the past 15 years, went down in a blaze of glory. For me and many other fans of sports, satire, and silliness the events of last week feel like the loss of a friend. What is worse though, is that it is a loss at the hands of the ridiculous "stick to" commentary that has unfortunately entered our discourse. If you aren't familiar with what happened, the implosion went down like this:
Deadspin and its parent company Gawker, had been involved in a number of highly controversial stories over the past few years which resulted in a number of lawsuits which eventually took down Gawker. Deadspin, along with a number of its sister sites survived but the sites were acquired and sold to different groups a number of times over the past couple of years. This past week the actions of the most recent ownership group, G/O Media, unfortunately brought about the the end of the site as we know it by issuing a "stick to sports" edict to the Deadspin staff. If you know anything about Deadspin you know this did not go over well. Readers of the site know that some of the best parts of Deadspin have nothing to do with sports. No its stories that rank breakfast cereals, share unfortunate poop stories, or touch on the trials and tribulations of being a dad. Deadspin unquestionably produced great sports content, however it is the other "stuff" that really makes Deadspin what it is. Following this corporate demand, the staff revolted and immediately filled the homepage with their best non-sports stories, all of which had the not-so-ironic tagline of "Stick to Sports" plastered on the cover photo of each story. This did not sit well with the powers that be at G/O Media and brought about the immediate firing of the site's editor who had been with Deadspin since the site's beginning. Over the next three days the entire staff of Deadspin resigned, completely neutering the site of everything that made it great. While the site is technically still up and running with new writers there is no doubt that it is for all intents and purposes dead, and for this I am sad.
We all have our favorite little spots on the internet, a sanctum from the stresses of daily life. A place that we instinctively and almost subconsciously type into our browsers as soon as we log on to the internet. Deadspin was one of those places for me; when I type the letter "D" into my browser it auto-fills with Deadspin. I would spend entire class periods in law school on Deadspin and even more time once I started working a full time job. If I was bored it was one of the first places I went.
I realize though that not everyone loved Deadspin and they found themselves embroiled in controversy on regular basis making more than a few enemies. Could their writers be somewhat insufferable at times, yes, but really who among us isn't. Did they say things that they probably shouldn't have, yes, but who among us hasn't. Were they childish, absolutely, but again, who among us isn't. I didn't necessarily agree with all of their takes, but I still read because maybe at the end I would learn something or be entertained (God forbid that someone continues following a site with takes that they sometimes disagree with).
However, I will miss Deadspin the most because it was a major factor in bringing me here – writing on SportsMap. While I am certainly not as talented as the Deadspin writers their style of irreverent writing spoke to me and gave me a template to build my own written voice from. Additionally, through Deadspin I discovered a sister site called The Vane which was more or less Deadspin for weather. Being the weather geek that I am this was a mind-blowing discovery for me. Were there actually people who would read weather related content that wasn't just a bland local forecast? Apparently there were, and I wanted to be part of it. I began writing on a personal blog that never gained many readers but helped me develop a writing style I was comfortable with. Eventually I managed to hook on with Houston Sports and Stuff (somewhat of a predecessor to SportsMap) and when SportsMap came along I was lucky enough to have the powers that be (Fred) allow me to continue.
These days the "stick to" mindset has become way too prevalent. We are all humans with varying interests and some of those interests may even be * GASP * outside of one's stated profession. I see the "stick to sports," stick to weather", etc. commentary way to often now and I just don't get it. It is the "stuff" in life that makes it interesting and I fear we as a society are losing sight of that. Lets be honest, no one wants to be around the guy who only can talk about one topic, so why is this not true in our online lives? The "stick to" mentality is unfortunately becoming another buffer that people are using to insulate themselves from information that makes them uncomfortable or that they don't agree with. This mindset killed one of my (an millions of others') favorite places on the internet and it is just sickening to me. Even though it has cost me one of my happy places, I applaud the Deadspin staff for standing up for their principals and sticking it to "stick to sports" guy.