Todd McShay makes me want to eat bark

Lemme explain.

This morning I was watching a little SportsCenter, and they turned to Todd McShay, their vaunted college football “insider.” McShay was standing on/near a football field at Auburn University, where—in just a few minutes!—Cam Newton would be throwing for NFL scouts. McShay, thankfully, will keep us all up to date on Newton’s day, and whether he nailed the throws and twirled the spirals and blather blather blather blather.

I don’t know McShay, and I have zero beef with McShay. I think he’s about 33 or 34, and his job—literally, his job—is to report on the goings-on of 20-year-old kids who launch oval slaps of immitation swine skin through the air. He devotes, I’m guessing, 60-70 hours per week to tracking the progress of (generally speaking) un-curious college kids whose lone skill is a quirky, random physicality. A big victory for him is learning where a kid from Iowa is going to play his college ball. Literally, this is his life.

I’d rather eat bark.

Again, McShay probably loves it, and great for him. But there came a point in my life when I simply grew fatigured by the predictable rhythem of day-after-day sports. Last year’s Tebow is this year’s Newton. This year’s Newton will be next year’s somebody else. What makes Cam Newton worthy of McShay’s time is that he throws a football hard and far. That’s pretty much it.


8 thoughts on “Todd McShay makes me want to eat bark”

  1. Sportswriting Refugee

    I don’t think McShay covers recruiting.

    I wouldn’t want to do it for a living, but I see why people find it interesting as escapism. I’m into, for example, baseball prospects. I find the game more enjoyable when I know more.

  2. I’m not sure I understand this blog post. I mean, I literally understand it, but why does this particular profession make you want to eat bark? Granted, I couldn’t tell you who Cam Newton is, or Todd McShay is. I also doubt any of their words would have registered at all with me, since I couldn’t care less about football. However, even though I enjoy all your books, haven’t you yourself spent the majority of your professional life investigating and reporting on men “whose lone skill is a quirky, random physicality,” whether it be launching 450-foot homers, throwing 95-mph heat, or throwing for touchdowns in yet another “big game.”

    I understand that this “reporting” is about as interesting and useful as TMZ, but what is the big difference between you and him? Because the guys you’ve written about (Bonds, Clemens, Rocker) have already “made” it? Because you’re not on television regularly?

    Not trying to hate, just trying to understand.

    1. Refugee says it well. My main reason for entering the biz is a love of writing; an and equal love of digging into someone’s life and seeing what makes him/her tick. The idea of using my days to report on the intricate goings-on of 19-year-old kids is mind-melting. Again, I’m not ripping McShay. If he loves his job, that’s wonderful. For me, though, it’d be akin to torture.

  3. Sportswriting Refugee

    If I may speak for him, I think Jeff is saying that he would not like reporting on the daily minutia of a really focused sports beat. He prefers larger scope storytelling or bigger-picture pieces.

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