How often do you read something about sports and think that it’s stupid or else accept its many flaws because, well, it’s sports writing? Now, compare that to the number of times you’ve read something about sports, and it altered your perspective or confirmed something that you felt, but couldn’t necessarily express? The latter happens so rarely that what should be the rule has become the exception.
For many years, sports writers have gotten away with sloppy articles and poorly formed opinions because most of their readers consider sports to be a diversion, and until recently, only the sports writers themselves could provide their audience with the framework necessary to make that distraction function. Casual interest and controlled context combined to form an indolent system of tainted information proclamation that resulted in the proliferation of stupidity and hokum, rather than reason and consideration.
… and then, the internet.
Technological advances have conspired to not only shine a light on the biased context provided to sports fans in the past, but also transform the relationship between sports fans and athletic spectacles. Audiences are being given ever-increasing amounts of information, which has produced an increased accessibility to areas beyond what’s happening on the field or court or rink. This has resulted in a loss of authority for the sports writer and a closer relationship to sports for its fans.
But instead of adapting to the new rules of engagement, sports writers have largely defended their previously held positions through nostalgia or the highlighting of nonsense that’s even worse than their own, which admittedly, has also come along as a regrettable by-product of increased access and information.
Like a forgotten hominid species creeping toward extinction, those who lack the skills or willingness to adjust face the most futile of struggles. Work that negligently depends on fictional narratives, intangible characteristics and all of the other imaginary little crutches has grown far less convincing during this evolution. Through the availability of increased access in other mediums, the collective faith in the sports writer’s expertise has diminished, and given way to a transformation in our own vicarious relationship to sports. As newly formed experts in our own right, our curiosity to learn more has become enhanced.
We’re no longer content to merely use our favorite team or athlete on game day as a vessel for living out our own fantasies. Our interest has stretched to reach beyond the action of gameplay and into multiple areas associated with sports, from business matters to media coverage, and from social elements to political implications. The modern sports fan questions it all, and uses sports not just as a distraction from the mundane, but also as a form of art that causes reflection and urges us to improve.
It’s my hope that Fanatico becomes a destination to satisfy this relatively recent curiosity. It’s an ambitious goal, but we plan to accomplish it by providing commentary and criticism that doesn’t skimp on context or ignore issues that challenge the principles that we generally accept to be true. We’ll give our opinions and we’ll support what we believe with evidence, while also affording every opportunity to reasonable arguments that counter our own.
We want to offer an alternative to sports writing that has too often either congratulated itself for its ignorance (“I don’t use the Tweeter.”) or dismissed the unknown as unworthy of attention before giving it any whatsoever (“I don’t understand it. Therefore, it’s scary and stupid.”).
However, before I lead us all in the chorus of a Les Misérables song parody, it should be mentioned that we don’t want to lose our sense of humor, either. While our intention is to formulate opinions and inspire discussion on important matters, we recognize that for all that sport is capable of doing and being, and for all of my lofty and pretentious comparisons to art, it remains a game that is played.
We’ll make fun of that. We’ll also make fun of ourselves. We’ll have weekly features summarizing long reads and reviewing media coverage. We’ll have book club events and interviews with athletes and other members of the sports-industrial complex. We’ll comprise monthly top one hundred lists on a myriad of subjects. We’ll watch horrible sporting events on purpose and we’ll write about it. We’ll write about sports that don’t get a lot of attention, and we’ll write about athletes that do.
But above all else, we’ll be thoughtful and entertaining. We want to be fair and honest about our perspective, and we want to engage yours. We really don’t want to suck.