piece featuring Simmons and Cook

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on December 23rd, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Indiana University is home to America's premier sports journalism department, and thus, hosts one of the prominent blogs on the subject. In their most recent post, Dave Kindred did an op-ed on the difference between fandom and columnist coverage of sports media. While the bulk is about Bill Simmons being one of the top columnist, he does talk about his interest in mgoblog and Brian Cook.

Not much new from most of our perspectives, but maybe worth a read if you're bored on Christmas break.

And a little taste of the finish:

He writes the adventure so well that, to my surprise, I’m okay with it – because his stuff comes with the ring of truth-telling. At Mgoblog this season, Dr. Cook performed an autopsy on Rich Rodriguez’s semi-live body every week. Here’s how far I’ve moved on this blog thing: If I ran a sports news operation, I’d want my own absolutely partisan Brian Cook writing about the biggest team we cover.

Because his stuff would appear alongside traditional news coverage, I would put a label on it that would leave no doubt what it was: "Brian Cook Believes, Thinks, and Truly Hopes . . ." After three or four pieces, readers/users would understood exactly what Cook did, which was report everything in answer to one question: "Is this good or bad for our team?"

I also would promise that as soon as he began to sound like a rah-rah face-painting sports guy droning on at the sports bar, I’d ship him back to Ann Arbor.



December 23rd, 2009 at 5:17 PM ^

What I find most interesting is Brian's choice of curriculum while @ UM; Engineering and Computer Science. I did a similar thing, I studied History while my career has been in IT (.Net & Web development). That said, either you have the gift of gab (no offense), if you've listened to WTKA on Monday afternoons, or you don't. If that isn't the most entertaining two hours concerning UM Sports, I don't know what is. The same holds true with respect to writing. I thank my lucky stars, every time I visit, that Brian is a Michigan fan, like me.


December 23rd, 2009 at 10:19 PM ^

It is truly rare to find someone as transparent as Brian is on this blog. He doesn't shy away from his bias or opinions but provides links to the "other side(s)" of topics and/or discussions. Transparency is lacking in today's media pretty much wherever you look, so hats off to you Brian!


December 24th, 2009 at 12:51 AM ^

Thanks for the link.

Beyond the one-liner, it really does identify what the problem is with sports reporting, that Brian has pointed out many times, even if the author doesn't get it, or at least holds it out at arms length.

First, they're looking for a story, not for the teams they cover to succeed. That doesn't mean one has to be face-paintingly sucking up, (As this Blog has shown...heck, a certain LB coach review just yesterday illustrates that), but that you're kinda hoping for the same thing. I mean, you're covering the team for a fanbase that roots for the team. If you're reporting straight news about it, just can do just the facts, ma'am. Or if you're coming from National base, sure, I don't want you rooting for New York over Milwaukee, or even Michigan over Ohio State (though the value of that SHOULD be apparent on face value). Stay neutral. But what is the point of staying neutral locally? Not in the bag, per se, but are you writing for the institution of journalism, or, you know, readers? (Considering the state of the industry, they may be answering that question...)

The second, bigger problem, is that if you're hoping for a STORY, and not a story, and there's not one there, what is there to do, but CREATE one?? And that's where journalism has gone to great extent...they create stories, not much different than the tabloids they hold themselves so much higher than. (Even on that page is another article on how all the Tiger Woods news was "Ugh, tabloid reporting"...even though it was those questionable organizations that did all the reporting and broke the story, then it was mainstream media that ramped up the feeding frenzy afterwards). Not necessarily creating things out of thin air mind you, but a lot of mountain out of molehill reporting, and hyperbole. (Yeah, I'm sure I don't need to come up with any examples of THAT). And that's where the danger has come in...if there's no story there, they are creating it, and molding not only the news, but perceptions and actions. And that's a dangerous path to go down...


December 24th, 2009 at 1:33 AM ^

Hats off to Brian for the blog, but I really don't think that anyone will ever have to worry about Brian painting his face and being all rah-rah at a game.


December 24th, 2009 at 8:32 AM ^

Obviously he doesn't broadcast games, but as the years move on, Brian gets weaved deeper into the fabric of Michigan football. Here's to looking forward to many, many years of Brian's Blog...


December 26th, 2009 at 3:46 PM ^

I suppose that simple recognition of the obvious value of this blog by a "mainstream" reporter is progress, of a sort. But the (probably unconscious) condescension of this guy in imagining a "role" for Brian in the world of "real" news shows just how far he is from getting it. How long would he keep Brian on after Brian's repeated public eviscerations and humiliations of the supposed "professional" staff?

He conveniently conflates Brian's fandom with his analytical approach, allowing him to avoid the harder conclusions. The fact that fans should have to go to a blog, written by someone with no formal training or experience, to learn what's really going on with their team is a searing indictment of the shallow, insipid, math-phobic, analysis-allergic mess that is modern journalism.