We are a couple of days into 2015 so it is a little late for new year's resolutions. I have one I would like to propose, though, which seems timely. It actually isn't my idea. It is a few months old from Sean McIndoe of Grantland in his NHL season preview. He proposed a few new season's resolutions back in October to mark the start of the NHL season.
Let’s stop rewarding bad sportswriting
It’s become a common part of the modern sports fan experience: You turn on your computer, have a sip of your morning coffee, and then fire up Twitter or Facebook or your favorite message board to see what everyone’s talking about today. And you’re immediately plunged into a whirlwind of spittle and rage and loud noises, because the entire online hockey world is flipping out about that article.
You know the one. It was written by that longtime sportswriter at the local paper, or maybe that annoyingly clickbaity website, or maybe some random blogger nobody has ever heard of. It was a column, or a list, or a throwaway one-liner at the end of a 3,000-word post. And it tried to make an argument that was obviously wrong, spectacularly wrong, so wrong you can’t believe the author could sincerely believe it.
Which, of course, the author probably didn’t, because most of the time this stuff is just engineered to get a reaction. Other times, it may be a sincere but misguided opinion. But it doesn’t really matter, because the Internet is already forming a kick circle around it, and you want to make sure you elbow your way to a good spot up front.
Stop it. Life is too short to worry about hackish sportswriting.
So how about this: The next time you read something that’s dumb, don’t rush off to post a link so that everyone else can rage about it. Instead, go find some good writing, and post that link instead. Even better, don’t grab that link from one of the big sites or papers that everyone already knows. Find some struggling blogger with a little bit of talent and some good ideas but no real audience, or a young sportswriter hustling on a new beat even though his stuff always winds up getting chopped up and buried 10 pages in. Find that story, and then post that link instead.
If everyone did that, we’d all wind up reading better content. The incentive to write lazy hot takes would eventually drop. And maybe a few of those no-names would start down the long road to building enough of an audience to push the worst of the hacks out of a job someday.
It probably wouldn’t work. But it might be worth a try.
I think this is great advice for all of us. When somebody writes something over the top or unfair, why don't we stop linking it and commenting about it all day and giving the writer the attention they crave? You aren't punishing the writer by complaining. You're rewarding the writer. Instead let's focus on well reasoned writing.
Let's make the Jets fans focus on Kristian Dyer, Darryl Slater, and the many great ones covering this team.