Derek Jeter was on “The Tonight Show” last night talking about his new journalism venture, The Players’ Tribune. He was asked by Jimmy Fallon if this wasn’t an effort to circumvent sportswriters and put them out of business. Jeter said it wasn’t:
“This is not trying to eliminate sportswriters. Sportswriters are what make sports great and fun to watch. This is just another avenue for the athletes to use and express themselves.”
If you think that Jeter actually thinks that sportswriters “make sports great and fun to watch,” well, there’s no helping you. No, this is an epic and masterful troll by The Captain, subtly mocking the very notion that fans’ enjoyment of sports is at all dependent upon the sportswriters he has very clearly and effectively dodged and avoided for 20 years.
And he’s 100% right of course. I mean, sure, I think there’s a place for sportswriters. There are gaps in the middle and time between games when our product can serve as interesting or pleasant diversions for people who don’t want to totally ignore sports when the games aren’t on. At our best we can enrich people’s enjoyment of sports around the edges with information or insight. At its very, very best — and here I’m talking Roger Angell/David Halbertstam/Pat Jordan stuff — some sportswriting can stand alone as a wonderful and enjoyable product that can, at times, almost be art.
But people don’t watch the games because of what the sportswriter tells them. We can add supplemental information and provide a little bit of fun (or funny), but we’re not what makes sports fun. Not by a friggin’ longshot.