Over at Pension Plan Puppets Saturday night, Julian [Redacted] promoted a FanPost, which is user comment in Sports Blog Nation speak, that told the funny story of Ottawa defenseman Matt Carkner. The story goes that part-time goon and part-time competent defenseman Carkner went to Moxie's after his Senators lost to the Leafs 5-1 and got in a bar fight.
There are no pictures of the incident, no video, no statement from the owner of the bar confirming that a fight broke out that involved a local celebrity, so the story is, in all possibility, total bullshit. That doesn't make it a bad thing. This is the epitome of the Internet and its possibilities. Friend of the Factor Ryan Classic pointed out with the first comment on the PPP story that the user tweeted "Matt Carkner likes to look at boys dicks..." just prior to announcing to the world that Carkner also picks petty battles with petty fans in bars.
I understand the connection between communication and emotion. Certainly having Asperger's Syndrome means that I'm no stranger to doing stupid things because my emotions told me to. I once broadcasted to Twitter that some hack sports journalist on the college sports beat with the Kamloops Daily News was doing the in-house announcing for a Thompson Rivers WolfPack basketball game and it was totally a conflict of interest. I was rightfully served and put in place because the two people just happened to look alike, and that's not too far off from what [Redacted] or Twitter user danvrtsng did here. Reeling with positive emotion from a blowout win over a rival means that you, well, are going to kick your opponent when they're down and pummel them repeatedly like Matt Carkner apparently does to bar patrons.
This is the essence of blogging--stupid shit. The Internet, as given lip service to earlier, is a powerful, powerful tool. Sure, the website Digg declared Heath Ledger had died before coroners did, but for sports, which is the most important trivial thing in most people's lives, blogging is essentially about stupid rumours that stir up conversation about players, teams and coaches. I find it hilarious when major news companies try to find angles to cover the Rex Ryan foot fetish story, when it's completely out of their realm. It's a joke. Matt Carkner beating up a fan in a bar is amusing, wildly untrue, but would be good to make jokes about. It's the speculation over who 'The Machine' is for the San Francisco Giants. It's Pass It To Bulis challenging a 4th line player to a game of Scrabble. It's pointless, it's fun.
The real shame is that bloggers tend to do a better job at breaking stories and reporting and analyzing games than the people in mainstream positions who are paid to do this. The classic example is Tyler Dellow's story about the Colin Campbell e-mails, and how Robert Cribb, an investigative journalist for a newspaper with a reputation for investigative reporting who initially reported the story a year ago, skimmed over the crucial bits. Saturday, the news of Dwayne Roloson's trade to the Tampa Bay Lightning was broken by Chris Botta, a writer for NHL FanHouse who was unceremoniously dumped from the Nassau Coliseum press box by New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow about a month ago. While this is all going on, bloggers like Kent Wilson, Gabriel Desjardins and dozens of others are using micro statistics that change how we watch the game and view players.
It is 2:21 Pacific Time as I write this, and Matt Carkner is trending in Canada. The story, while probably untrue, has legs, so its fodder for jokes at the very least. If the story is true, it should be reserved for the blogs. Carkner getting into a bar fight isn't as heinous of a crime as what most NHL executives get away with on a daily basis. The problem is that a lot of local sports columnists, who are so cozy with their relationships with teams and organizations, would post stories decrying the state of athletes today and how they are so privileged compared to the days when everybody who played the game was a white Canadian who fought on the ice, or something just as equally pointless. Also likely is that Damien Cox, the sports media landscape's resident media dummy, would conjure up some column on how bad fighting is for the game.
This is why, although I've graduating from university with a journalism degree in April, have chosen the fun-loving world of sports blogs over the serious world of printed type. I had to hang around with those guys for a year when I worked for our school paper and they drove me to total boredom. I got in trouble with coaches because I reported player injuries and with executives for attempting to get them to financially justify why our school pays over a million dollars for an athletics program that draws about 100 fans a game. In the end I sort of looked at all the information I'd gathered and thought: "Well, I can't make people care about this. Governments and public institutions frivolously spend money all the time. It would be a waste of effort."
I like blogging because I can draw an emotional reaction out of a few people, instead of no reaction out of many people who read my column in a newspaper. I like knowing that people I've been reading for a couple of years are browsing my website and (presumably) laughing at my jokes. I like being part of the discussion, I like that I don't have to decry the sorry state of journalism because AJ Daulerio posted pictures of Brett Favre's penis. I like that Sidney Crosby wears crocs. I like that I can statistically analyze Matt Carkner's game, but can also make jokes about the possibility that he fights people in bars. If Pension Plan Puppets gave credence to an untrue rumour, that should only be news because websites like Pension Plan Puppets otherwise do a far better job at covering sports than the old boys sports media club is. The failure to define the line between Internet and newsprint is the fault of the old school guys who have allowed the line to be blurred.
*Edited for late-night grammar errors. Late at night, so there are probably more*