Hey, Jeff Green, Sorry You Don’t Like Blogs

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The following is a special to Boston.com from John Karalis, co-founder of the popular Celtics blog RedsArmy.com. Karalis writes in response to a comment made by Celtics forward Monday during the team’s media day.

Blogs suck.

How many times have I heard that line?

Blogs are the easy target for athletes, executives, and even members of the mainstream media.

We bloggers, I’m told, are a fringe bunch of wanna-be’s who blather on outside of the pristine walls of journalistic integrity. We are, I’m made to understand, too free to be biting and nasty with our comments because we don’t have to face locker room cold shoulders and mean mugs from the subjects of our barbs.

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We don’t count.

We don’t matter.

We suck.

I will admit that these things are partly true. It really doesn’t take much to sign up for WordPress or Typepad, and lot of these site templates look pretty good. With very little tweaking, any loudmouth can give him or herself a forum to let it fly. In this world of the loudest, most outrageous voice getting a lion’s share of the attention, it’s not hard to find an angry jerk of a fan with a following.

This, however, should not characterize the entire blogging community any more than Kim Kardashian should be used to characterize Meryl Streep, or Michael Felger should be used to characterize Adrian Wojnarowski. “Blogs suck” paints with the same broad brush used to say “Jeff Green sucks.”

We don’t. And neither does he.

The blog’s influence on the sports media landscape has been immense. SB Nation has grown into a major player in sports journalism, allowing readers access to an ocean’s worth of talent that would have gone unnoticed in the old-school world of daily newspapers. Many team blogs have operated for years with growing readerships, earning respect for producing quality, long-form analysis thanks to lack of word counts. The new analytical revolution within the NBA was fueled primarily by eager bloggers adopting and embracing these new ways of looking deep into the game to find its truths and fallacies.

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Blogs have a place in the sports media ecosystem. Just like nature, there are a few weeds that need to be pulled. However, there is a lot of quality work to be enjoyed by voracious fans of all teams in all sports.

All that said, we’ve never lived in a tougher climate for professional athletes. The level of scrutiny has never been higher. A guy can spend 38 minutes running himself ragged on the floor, exhausting himself physically and emotionally, deal with the media after the game at his locker, sign things for people waiting outside afterwards, and if he misses one autograph, someone tweets that he’s a jerk to fans.

All we see is “athlete denies kid autograph.” No context. No nothing.

Athletes have to accept that with their ability to run, jump, and perform their sports-specific tasks at freakish levels comes a certain level of public scrutiny. But beyond the media spotlight (blogs included) now comes the added facet of people on social media carrying their heckling and star-gazing into a 24-7 cycle of perpetual fandom.

Out at a fancy restaurant? A smartphone is in your face.

Taking in a movie with your kids? Phone in the face.

Hanging out with a girl? Phone in the face. And Tweets asking “who’s that girl?” Probably followed by a commentary on the physical attractiveness of said girl.

Private lives? Good luck with that.

Oh, and what about their performances on the court?

Jeff Green has, by all accounts, worked his ass off to come back from heart surgery and return to a high level of NBA play. His level of desire and his work ethic have rarely, if ever, been called into question.

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The “inconsistent” label comes, first and foremost, from him not living up to OUR expectations. When he got his $9 million or so per year, we collectively raised our hopes for what we thought he might be. Generally speaking, the fan base decided that Green’s insane athletic ability and fairly large contract would add up to a day-in, day-out, high-teen, low-20 point scoring output. After the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, we looked at Green and said “well, I guess you’re our first option now,” and thrust upon him our own ideas of what that would be.

The more astute observers of the league snickered and muttered “good luck with that,” not in criticism of Green, but of those of us who decided he would be something different than what he is. Jeff Green is pretty good at basketball. We want him to be better, and we want him to be better all the time.

I want to be a better writer. Maybe some of my reader had higher hopes for my stuff. I’d love to be the next Bob Ryan…

Alas, that may never come to pass. Jeff Green might never be mentioned among the greats, either, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not good.

It also means that he’s not beyond criticism. The “inconsistent” label is valid in many regard. And in today’s high-velocity social media world, that criticism is slung around at breakneck snark, especially during in-game Tweet-fests by those who are not afraid to reach for the low-hanging fruit.

So after all this, I turn to the Simpsons for my one piece of advice for Green. It’s the same advice I use when it comes to many a comments section.

Just don’t look.

Paul Anka: To stop those monsters, one-two-three,
Here’s a fresh new way that’s trouble-free,
It’s got Paul Anka’s guarantee … [winks]
Lisa: Guarantee void in Tennessee.
Paul Anka and Lisa: Just don’t look! Just don’t look!

People are going to say what they’re going to say, and there really isn’t a whole lot that any of us can do to stop it. Irrational hate and trolling is the lifeblood of the internet (along with porn, obviously). Along with the legitimate critiques are the bombastic tirades designed to draw attention to the writer more than the topic.

If anything sucks, it’s the internet as a whole, not the blogs. It can be a dark, ugly place that can swallow you whole if you’re not careful. The simplest solution for your peace of mind, Jeff, is simple.

Just don’t look.

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