Deadspin editor fired for thinking politics has anything to do with sports

So I was hoping that today I’d be posting about my latest Deadspin article that I filed last week, which is about a topic that FoS readers are particularly passionate about, but that’s probably not going to happen now that my editor was just fired:

If you want to read the whole background of the “stick-to-sports” edict, you can start with this article yesterday from the Daily Beast, though really you should go back to Megan Greenwell’s farewell post as editor-in-chief where she laid out how, as she put it, “the tragedy of digital media isn’t that it’s run by ruthless, profiteering guys in ill-fitting suits; it’s that the people posing as the experts know less about how to make money than their employees, to whom they won’t listen.” (Petchesky wasn’t even editor-in-chief of Deadspin when he was fired; he was just the interim fill-in after Greenwell’s departure.) But if you’ve ever read Deadspin, you’ll know that its entire raison d’etre is the notion that sports and culture and politics and everything else are one big glorious mess, and while sports is the site’s bread-and-butter, digressing occasionally to write about the propriety of hanging out at football games with war criminals or even bizarrely aspirational gift catalogues is all part of the attraction.

I don’t have the slightest idea what happens to Deadspin now — whoever’s next in line to be interim EIC undoubtedly would be at least as hostile as Barry to the “stick to sports” edict, which I guess could lead to a long series of Deadspinners stepping into the role only to be fired in turn, a la the Wobblies’ free speech protests. There’s a good chance there will be unfair labor practice charges, and almost certainly more fights over the private equity takeover of American media. There is almost zero chance that it will mean good things for the future of Deadspin, or of reporting that does political analysis of sports. If you’re a sports owner who depends on doing business beyond the reach of journalistic scrutiny, your job just got a little easier today.


24 comments on “Deadspin editor fired for thinking politics has anything to do with sports

  1. I didn’t think I’d ever get so worked up over *any* news website, but here we are… as Neil alluded to here, Deadspin served as one of the few intersections of sports, politics, and culture that existed online (and some would argue the only one that managed to make it work even remotely well).

    Chop that identity down to just sports, and it becomes Fox Sports: a content mill with a little more notoriety. Perhaps that’s what G/O Media wanted all along — and if that’s the case, then the only conclusion would be that those vultures are so intractably cynical and vindictive that they’re willing to throw down millions upon millions of dollars (not to mention throw out long-time employees onto the proverbial streets) just to destroy a brand they didn’t like.

    Well, that, and corporate media culls like these make it more imperative for everyone to support smaller and/or independent media companies any way we can.

  2. Outside of your articles I really never cared about Deadspin.

    Sorry their potential implosion might be affecting you though. Especially this close to the holidays.

  3. Village Voice Jockbeat, Sports on Earth, Vice Sports, Deadspin – I’m starting to feel like the kiss of death. (Never worked at SI, though, so maybe it’s not me, it’s just toxic capitalism.)

  4. I know it sucks for them, but at least Deadspin is having fun with it. They’re posting a bunch of non-sports stuff tagged “Stick to Sports”.

    • That was the action that got Barry fired. You’ll note that nothing has been posted to Deadspin since 1 pm.

      https://www.mediaite.com/online/chaos-at-deadspin-staff-revolts-against-stick-to-sports-mandate-from-private-equity-overlords-editor-sacked/

      • Ah okay. I had checked earlier in the morning before that happened, then saw this and then went back and got the order wrong. It’s disappointing it’s going down like this. I just started reading Deadspin regularly, partly because of you posting there, and generally liked it, but now I really don’t want to support the new owners even if I like the writers.

        It’s hard finding decent sports reporting now. I do subscribe to the Athletic, but it’s kind of meh to me because I like a good comments section where I might learn something beyond the original article (I often do here), but a bunch of the Athletic comments are “this is why I subscribed to the Athletic” even for the most mundane articles.

        • Yeah, it took me a minute to reconstruct the timeline of what happened at Deadspin, too. Very curious to see what happens at the site today.

          I have some good friends at The Athletic and wish it well, but stretching the boundaries of sports reporting is absolutely not its mandate. At best it’s the spiritual heir of the old Sports Illustrated, not of Deadspin or Jockbeat.

        • Ditto…I only found it there because of your articles.

          I thought it was really refreshing to have journalism “authors/contributors/etc” who didn’t stick to the rules and called out the leagues, corrupt ownership, and hypocrisy.

          On a positive note there aren’t too many Village Voice, Vice, SI, Deadspin, Field of Schemes left…maybe only one.

          • Yeah, and Field of Schemes has always been partially subsidized by Deadspin et al, since this ends up being research for articles I’m actually paid for.

            (Not that you readers don’t pay me for my writing here, via your generous contributions. But it’s still nowhere near enough to keep me from needing a day job of some kind.)

  5. I read Deadspin for a while but got tired of it (I appreciate trying to write about culture, sports, and politics but there is also a very mixed quality to the writing as well as some really poorly thought out positions. Barry Petchesky has written some really brave and good stuff so that site is not going to get better. I think the worst thing about it has been “the sticking to sports” so there its time to delete the bookmark and hope for a better world.

  6. Good. And pretending Deadspin is just a bag of sports, culture, and politics is BS. Since three years ago, Deadspin turned into left wing progressive ranting in most articles with some sports. You can pretend all day that it’s just about just sticking to sports, but everyone at Deadspin thanks to Gawker were far left journalists who played to their fanbase. It’s quite possible to include politics, which really doesn’t belong in sports, without alienating half the country. Deadspin was unable and had no interest in doing so.

    Hopefully G/O will get talented witty writers who don’t need to inject their politics into everything. If so, it can be the great ESPN alternative it’s been trying to be.

    • If you think “politics doesn’t really belong in sports,” why on earth are you reading my site?

      I do think that “ESPN, but wittier” is probably the endgame that Spanfeller et al. are hoping for here. I’m not sure anyone really needs that, though, especially since that’s pretty much every other sports site on the planet right now, including ESPN.

    • “It’s quite possible to include politics, which really doesn’t belong in sports…”

      Hilariously wrong and overwhelmingly disproven by even a cursory glance at the historical record.

      “…without alienating half the country”
      It’s a lot less than half. And is this the same (less than) half that thinks global warming is a Chinese hoax?

  7. I have liked Deadspin for many years. If an article is too political, too boring, or poorly written I don’t have to read it. Burning down whole websites as “left wing” is shortsighted and lazy.

    One thing I like about the site is that they still wrote about people who play sports. ESPN and other sites are so choked with profiles of general managers, team owners, defensive coordinators, CFP voters, fantasy football predictions, and the like that I wonder why I bother watching at all. Sports will be the worse for the fading of this site.

    • Journalists are a largely left-leaning profession, and what “right-wing” content that is produced tends to be of a clickbait ghetto.

      We don’t tend to see glowing profiles soaked in religion, even though its a rather significant part of sports culture.

        • I’m a bit unclear on the politics sometimes. Pointing out that a college football player operates in a totally different economic rule set than the coach he plays for is on the side of “economic liberty.” Yet seems to offend the part of the political universe you’d think would be for that.

          Deadspin has accurately pointed this out. Also, not sure why we judge websites by how often we agree with them. Is that how we judge medical doctors?

          • When I mean “left and “right”, I’m speaking about social matter, rather than economics. Personally, I don’t have much time for the “economic liberty” crowd.

            A conservative argument on college football is that the tradition of “amateurism” must be strengthened and preserved. That theory is all well and good, until we see the reality that amateurism vanished some time in the mid-20th century. Many casual older observers are also unaware of the insane time commitments, and view “paid student-athletes” as “whining youth”.

            Treating D1 football like D3 football, no scholarships, no big coaching salaries, much reduced time commitments. That’s “re-amateurizing” college sports, and we can let the NFL set up a minor league system with its own money.

  8. You were one of the only bright things about dead pain these days. It hasn’t been great for over 5 years, maybe 10. Can’t say I will miss it or it’s sophomoric views on political issues.

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