Mitch Albom and The Fake Jason Whitlock.
Good morning (or evening, we’re doing this early), KSR friends and family, and welcome to your News and Views post for Wednesday, July 21. On this day, instead of highlighting the anniversary of the Scopes Trial and initiating a nerd fight of epic proportions here, we’ll instead highlight an online assault that broke out on Tuesday. The man taking the public lashing was the king of the 100-page tearjerker, Mitch Albom. Albom, fresh off of winning the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award (it’s like MTV’s “Video of the Year”, kids) drew the ire of legendary sports writer Dave Kindred for, umm, pretty much making things up and then got a can of Twitter ranting and online thrashing opened up on him by Jason Whitlock. Whitlock’s beef? Well, it’s partly with Albom who he thinks is a fiction writer pretending to be a sportswriter by – surprise! – writing fictional and exaggerated accounts of real events. The real beef, though, is with the APSE and is best described through Whitlock’s own words:
It’s called denial, a mental state newspaper leadership lives in while the industry many of us love burns.
APSE propping Albom up is one more sign that newspaper leadership is both clueless and unwilling to dismantle systems put in place to reward butt-kissing climbers.
At a time when it’s embarrassingly obvious we should’ve adopted new content approaches 15 years ago, APSE, by defiantly recognizing Albom, is stating “we did nothing wrong.”
We keep selling the copout excuse that the economy is the reason we’re failing. Or that young people are too stupid to realize how good we are. It’s all BS.
We refused to change. We didn’t make room for Bill Simmons. We remained beholden to an APSE contest that in no way takes into account context, impact, relevancy, traction or innovation.
That approach is fine and dandy when there’s no competition and local newspapers printed money. You can ignore your readers and put out content targeted at contest judges when there’s no place else for readers to go.
Unfortunately, it’s 2010 and not 1986. You don’t need the newspaper to find out what’s playing at the movies, or what the weather is going to be like, or what’s on TV, etc. The things that made newspapers essential can be found other places.
We now have to survive on creativity, original ideas and innovation. Television, YouTube, laptops, blogs, Twitter and cell phones have made narrative sports writing less valuable.
I believe the appropriate response is “Boom. Roasted.” or something similar, but I’m not 100% sure and I don’t feel qualified enough to just make it up. Oh well, I do know, however, that it was an unfortunately tough Tuesday for a guy who has made a pretty little penny off of the day and, for that, he gets a mention here.
Now, onto some abbreviated UK notes….
– Perhaps the most under-reported story of the day was the press release coming out of the SEC Media Days that named 49 UK athletes to the SEC Freshmen Academic Honor Roll. The most notable Wildcat on the list was the NBA’s #1 overall pick, John Wall, cementing his reputation as a good student and member of the UK community. A 3.0 GPA and 24 completed credit hours are the requirement for the list, which is impressive enough for a one-and-done guy, but becomes even more commendable when you realize he was one of only nine basketball players in the entire conference named. And, of the four tournament teams, Wall was the only scholarship player on the list. Tennessee was represented by walk-on Skyler McBee while neither Florida nor Vandy had a single basketball player make the Honor Roll. Good for John Wall.
– Tuesday also provided us with confirmation that Eloy Vargas would not travel to Canada for Kentucky’s exhibition games and is not on campus yet. Vargas apparently has some coursework to finish between now and the start of the all semester, which makes him unable to participate in any UK activities. While missing the additional practices (the entire goal of the trip) probably won’t help him in any way, Vargas does have the advantage of two years of college basketball under his belt so his transition should not be as hindered as one might think. Or, at least, let’s hope not.
– On a final basketball note, Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman let the top players in the class of 2011 rank each other in a variety of categories and a number of very familiar names factor prominently into the results. Current commits Michael Gilchrist and Marquis Teague claimed victories in best player (Gilchrist), best defender (Gilchrist), best playmaker (Teague) and hardest worker (Gilchrist). The other categories are heavy on UK targets.
– It’s about to get a lot more football heavy around here as Wednesday serves as Kentucky’s SEC Media Day in Hoover, Alabama. Operation: Win will be represented by Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and DeQuin Evans at the event, which will kick off at 4:20 pm along with the “NCAA Investigation Q&A” tentatively listed on the program as Florida’s media sesssion.
– The Hoover-bound UK trio got some good news prior to their media engagement as Cobb, Locke and Evans all made the Coaches Pre-Season All-SEC teams. Cobb and Locke both earned first team nods and Evans was named to the second team.
– Though he was listed as Second Team in the program, DeQuin Evans was #1 in the heart of Eric Lindsey at the Cat Scratches Blog. Lindsey wrote a great profile of Evans, who remains mostly an unknown at this point entereing his second (and final) season as a Cat.
– And, while we’re in a football frenzy, a name that you’re sure to hear a lot more of in the future, Dixie Heights quarterback Zeke Pike, a UK target, picked up two big-time offers. According to Cincinnati.com, Alabama and Auburn both offered the rising junior quarterback who, strangely, has not played a varsity game at the position yet. He already has an open invitation to serve as Operation: Win general and his name will likely begin to fill this site over the next two years. If, of course, this blog is around that long.
– On a final note, gentlemen, Victoria’s Secret is helping you in the gift-giving department and, after Matt sees this, probably giving birth to a new KSR picture submission contest.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we keep up updated on the dawning of a new era in UK football and make sure we get ourselves for the five people we meet in heaven. I’m hoping for Tupac, Mr. Wildcat, Andre the Giant, Kurt Cobain and Charles Barkley (I’m making a safe bet that he dies before me), though not in that order. I’d prefer that it be more of a group setting, possibly with a big curtain drop like a rock show or something. That way we’re all equally excited by the others. Anyway, I’m going to bed and putting myself one step closer to that dinner party. See you in a few…