Saturday, June 28, 2008

Farewell Will Leitch Deadspin era

By Rick Morris

Anyone participating in New Media, especially any projects that are sports-oriented (or partially sports-oriented, as this one is) has to take notice of something that happened Friday. It was something that would inaccurately be called the end of an era -- because it was just the end of the beginning.

Will Leitch, who piloted the biggest sports blog of all time (by a wide margin, I might add),, moved on this past week to pursue other opportunities at New York Magazine and The Sporting News. Over the past three years, Deadspin has been a revolutionary force in sports media and also in New Media as a whole. It operated from a very basic premise, one that was sadly a revolutionary one in this pre-packaged fake world we live in: that sports coverage should be packaged in a way that entertains the average fan.

Under Leitch's leadership, Deadspin hammered away at the pomposities that flow from blowhard institutions like "The Worldwide Leader" and delivered material on a daily basis that made you laugh and, at the same time, did enlighten about different parts of the sporting universe. And they also helped change the rules of engagement for athletes and sports-oriented celebrities once and for all -- get hammered in a bar and make a fool of yourself, and you WILL end up with your pictures on Deadspin, courtesy of a dude with a camera phone who then shoots the goods to Leitch's inbox. Jock enablers in the media are especially incensed about this development.

But Deadspin is about more than goofy pictures of this sort or salacious posts about hoops players and their baby mamas or anything like that -- it is about helping fans to be able to laugh at (and thus enjoy) the absurdities of the sports world in this crazy new millennium. It helps us be able to deal with the big-money circus that our sports have devolved into and for that we owe all the contributors to the site many thanks. I'm not ashamed to count Deadspin as an influence for what we do at FDH, much as I have previously cited Tony Bruno. Life is too short to look at sports without a healthy amount of laughter and for that reason, Deadspin will live on. As I stated above, Leitch's departure (as he himself noted) will not be the end of the site by any stretch of the imagination. Having said that, I hope that he is granted a "Tom Brokaw role" which would entitle him to pop back in as a contributor as circumstances warrant.

I should add on a personal note that, for one of the most accomplished writers anywhere on the Internet, Leitch is also one heck of a nice guy. I had the pleasure of interviewing him once on The SportsTalk Network and I found him to be such a nice and respectful guy. With everything that he has done already and everything that he has left in front of him, I would sure love the opportunity to interview him in The FDH Lounge. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors and I look forward to the opportunity to read him in other venues.

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