The Worst Ever

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A couple of hours ago, while working out at the gym, I was simultaneously reading the New York Times and watching ESPN’s coverage of NBA free agency.

It made for a striking juxtaposition.

The article that caught my eye was written by Vivian Yee, one of the newspaper’s Brooklyn corespondents. It was headlined, FINAL SALUTE FOR FIREFIGHTER, and detailed the funeral of Gordon Matthew Ambelas, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department who died in a blaze on Saturday. The piece was absolutely beautiful—understated, sensitive, precise. I feel like, 97 percent of the time, readers gobble information without considering the skill involved in detail gathering. Yee clearly asked questions, paid attention, understood how one writes such an article. It’s a tribute to a fallen firefighter, without being a puff piece. Just … great. Bravo.

The TV personality who caught my eye was Chris Broussard, one of ESPN’s talking heads and—in my worthless opinion—one of the biggest buffoons in the business. In case one thinks I write that out of jealousy … well, think again. My interest in TV is minimal. I appear on Jim Rome’s show every three months or so, and it’s enough for me. I’m a writer—that’s my love. The written word.

I can appreciate television. I have friends who work in the medium; people like the great Mark Kriegel; like the great Bob Ley; like the great Seth Davis. They’re good at what they do, because it’s not about—in Bob’s words—”Red Light Fever.” They’re reporters at heart; gatherers and dispersers of information. They don’t guess or pretend to possess knowledge they lack. If they have questions, they ask. If there are holes in their narratives, they either fill them through proper channels or admit to lacking stuffing.

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Broussard, however, is incapable of doing this. I’m sure he makes telephone calls. But what he’s really, really, really good at it is, well, guessing. And supposing. He’s the master of If-then reporting—meaning “If LeBron is having lunch with Wade … then he’s probably interested in staying with Miami.” It’s laughable nonsense, and it forces us to forget that real NBA reporters—Adrian Wojnarowski chief among them—do genuine digging, without needing the bullshit airport recognition that comes with being loud and fake authoritative. Or, put simply: If a professional doesn’t know something, he says, “I don’t know.” If Broussard doesn’t know something, he guesses. Or bullshits.

PS: Not gonna lie—my awareness of Broussard’s awfulness dates back to his take on Jason Collins. He is an ignorant man. Ignorant men don’t report well.

18 thoughts on “The Worst Ever”

  1. Sooo, do you think there is a correlation between his supposed Bible-reading, and his lack of investigative thoroughness in his reporting?

  2. Sadly, if he was thorough and only spoke when he hard hard info, ESPN wouldn’t use him. They need the hyperbole to fill the 24 hour news cycle.

  3. Sadly, if he was thorough and only spoke when he had hard hard info, ESPN wouldn’t use him. They need the hyperbole to fill the 24 hour news cycle.

  4. The worst part is, he wasn’t always like this. He was a very good writer for several newspapers before joining the Worldwide Leader (TM). And I remember when John Amaechi came out and several NBA players objected to the idea of having a gay teammate, Broussard said it wasn’t and shouldn’t be a big deal, and talked about his own friendship with LZ Granderson, whom he played pickup basketball with.

    And then he drank the hype Kool-Aid and is now turning into a better-looking Skip Bayless. Sic transit gloria.

  5. PREACH. Wish there were more writers and analysts calling out Broussard’s bullshit – it’s an embarrassment to sports media as a whole, and cheapens the good work thousands of other guys are trying to do.

  6. I agree that Chris Broussard is a bit of a buffoon on the big stage. To be fair to him, part of that buffoonery is not only enabled but actively encouraged by the “Worldwide Leader,” which touts its various “experts” as “insiders.” If you’re going to be promoted as an “insider,” you’d best pretend to have inside knowledge, even if you don’t.

    I was also taken aback by his Bible-thumping reaction to Jason Collins’s revelation. But back when John Amaechi came out, he wrote a nuanced, even charming piece for ESPN, http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=2764353&name=broussard_chris, in which he admitted up-front his (in my opinion mistaken and even cruel) belief that homosexuality is a sin, but qualified it by pointing out that he also believes heterosexual “fornication” to be a sin, but it doesn’t stop him from dealing professionally with heterosexual sinners among the NBA population, which must pretty much be 100% since AC Green retired. He touted the value of “Disagreeing but not being disagreeable,” and, at the time, said the NBA was in fact ready for an openly gay player. I LIKED that Chris Broussard. What the heck happened to him between 2007 and 2013?

  7. Oh, so if you believe that living out homosexuality is against god’s will it makes you ignorant and thus unable to be a good reporter?
    That might very well be the most ignorant thing I have ever heard.

    I hope you double-checked all your colleagues at SI, there might just be a Christian among them – better get rid of him or her quickly, lest they defile your journalistic integrity.

    1. Back in the day there were people who used the Bible to justify segregation and before that slavery; there were also people who used the Bible (and basic logic) to fight those institutions. Now and days it’s the same thing – people who use the Bible to support homophobia and people who use the Bible (and basic logic) to fight that, yet when homophobia is criticized people have the nerve to say “you’re attacking Christians”.

      1. You haven’t answered the question, have you? If you believe that living out homosexuality is against god’s will it makes you ignorant and thus unable to be a good reporter?

        Plus, “basic logic” (which is highly subjective, btw) might go against other doctrine as well, christian or other. Who decides where to draw the line? You? Jeff Pearlman?

      2. If you believe blacks are inferior and God hates them – yeah you’re probably not going to be a good journalist. If you believe homosexuals are inferior and God hates them – yeah you’re probably not gonna be a good journalist. I think that’s a fair conclusion, albeit not a certain one, but both cases show a lack of critical thinking that is usually required for journalism.

      3. “If you believe homosexuals are inferior and God hates them – yeah you’re probably not gonna be a good journalist.”

        I guess it’s a good thing then that Broussard has never said those things. But Pearlman has somewhat retracted from his anger towards Broussard (who might be a journalistic hack btw., I don’t know him and he certainly didn’t handle the LeBron stuff very well) in his newest blog, so I’ll leave it at that.

        As far as my nonsense above: I exaggerated, of course, but it actually worked together perfectly with your “basic logic” argument, because this is a very slippery slope: Some guy’s views go against our “basic logic”, so he’s an ignorant and shouldn’t be a journalist – then why stop at homosexuality? Resurrection, creation, heaven, virgin birth,… pick one and it’s really easy to use the same line of thinking. I certainly do not suffer from a “Christians are persecuted everywhere in the US” complex – I don’t even live there.

      4. I find the slippery slope argument to rarely be true. You know it was used prior to Loving v Virginia as an argument as to why blacks and whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry, right? If you don’t even know Broussard it seems odd that you are responding – yes he is a hack. And Pearlman never said Broussard shouldn’t be a journalist – he said he was an ignorant person and ignorant people tend to not make good reporters. And the difference between those religious tales and believing gays are inferior (and to be clear- Broussard did suggest they are total sinners – to excuse it he also said he didn’t believe in premarital sex – this from his blog post when John Amaechi came out – but also said he didn’t believe gays should be allowed to marry. Quite the catch 22 there) is that one is discriminatory. Again, by your logic we should’ve had a lot of tolerance for people who read Job and thought slavery was okay. That’s a slippery slope, for you.

      5. I find the slippery slope argument to rarely be true. You know it was
        used prior to Loving v Virginia as an argument as to why blacks and
        whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry, right?
        –> And you should know that I don’t agree with it being used that way. The “slippery slope” on itself is not a great argument, I know, but saying “it was used wrongly in the past” is not a great argument either. I’m sure you know that as well.

        If you don’t even know Broussard it seems odd that you are responding – yes he is a hack.
        –> Oh please. You don’t know me and yet you are responding – how come? I find Pearlman’s line of reasoning fairly weak, thus I respond. You don’t like mine, you respond. Pretty simple, right?

        And Pearlman never said Broussard shouldn’t be a journalist – he said he was an ignorant person and ignorant people tend to not make good reporters.
        –> Yeah, except he didn’t use “tend” and I somehow feel like Pearlman thinks CB should not be a journalist. Could be because of his blog and his tweets. And he admitted that it all started with CB’s take on homosexuality.

        And the difference between those religious tales and believing gays are inferior (and to be clear- Broussard did suggest they are total sinners – to excuse it he also said he didn’t believe in premarital sex – this from his blog post when John Amaechi came out – but also said he didn’t believe gays should be allowed to marry. Quite the catch 22 there) is that one is discriminatory.
        –>I did read his take on Amaechi, I didn’t find anything about the difference between marrying in a legal and in a religious way. Maybe he does differentiate there, a lot of people do.
        Maybe you argue that organized religion in itself is discriminatory, then, well, that’s like, your opinion man. To me (and to a whole lot of other people), saying that there are some things that are not right in God’s eyes does not equal being discriminatory and ABSOLUTELY does not mean that I or anyone else deem people inferior because of it. So please stop throwing that around.

        Again, by your logic we should’ve had a lot of tolerance for people who read Job and thought slavery was okay. That’s a slippery slope, for you.
        –> I can’t believe you read Broussards take on Amaechi and still use this argument.

        You know, thinking long and hard about a topic and arriving at different conclusions does not automatically make one side right and the other side ignorant. Doesn’t matter if you talk about Christians, atheists, agnostic, whatever. No one should use that argument, but Pearlman does and argues CB is a bad journalist “because of it”. That’s just crazy talk.

        You read his take on Amaechi. Does it sound like that ramblings of an ignorant buffoon who has never really tried to gather information on the topic? Never talked to the other side? I wish Pearlman – or you – would talk to LZ Granderson about this for a minute: Do you think LZ would continue being friends with him if Broussard was just an ignorant fool, an “awful” human being (Pearlman’s words) who deemed him inferiour? Really?

        Anyways, I will be gone for a week, so don’t read much into it if I don’t answer. But I will check back for any answers/questions.

      6. I don’t think you understand. Marriage in the United States (you said you’re not from here, right?) comes with certain benefits – taxation purposes, hospital visitation purposes, etc. Thinking gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry is inherently discriminatory. You’re literally denying them those benefits based on sexual orientation. Furthermore, don’t tell me Broussard – Mr. I don’t think pre-marital sex is okay – thinks civil unions are a good alternative. Furthermore – you literally claim you don’t know Broussard … but now you’re making judgements on his work because you’ve read one piece? Congrats? Why don’t you do a little more research into his history of using lazy sources and come back with a more informed opinion than “this one piece I read sounded quite reasonable!”. I don’t think you would be a great journalist either.

      7. Well, that escalated quickly. Thanks for proving that it makes no sense arguing with you. Saves me a lot of time.

        Short and sweet, for that pea you call your brain:
        Never did I defend his lazy use of sources. Never. I said that him having a certain religious point of view does not automatically make him ignorant and a bad journalist (he nevertheless might be, I said that as well). And I backed that up by “doing research”, reading his stance, explaining why I think that way.

        You on the other hand – are just an idiot.

        Oh and by the way, I have been working at a sports website for a couple of years now – articles, interviews, all that stuff. Better call my boss now and tell him he should fire me because Daniel here is allergic to a reasonable debate.

      8. You’ve been working at a sports website and yet you were unfamiliar with Chris Broussard? It’s hard to understand how you’re not one of the big writers in the country! If you were reading closely i never said it was automatic either – i said it was a fair assumption. But since you’re resorting to ad hominem arguments (rather than responding to my points about how being against gay marriage is inherent discrimination or how you still haven’t done research on who he is when you admit you don’t know him … you whine “you’re an idiot! … Daniel here is allergic to a reasonable debate!”) then I assume you’re unable to carry on. It doesn’t take detective skills to notice the shift in tone that started in your last post. Anywhos good luck with your sports writing!

      9. Also to be clear I didn’t have to answer the question – I was responding to your “better get the Christian out” nonsense.

  8. My favorite Broussard moments are those where he tweets out info from his “sources” after it’s already announced by someone else. Like when Deron Williams announced his extension with Brooklyn, only to have Broussard tweet out over 10 mins later that his sources are telling him that Williams is staying in Brooklyn. Or how his sources “confirmed” Jenkin’s/Lebron’s SI announcement yesterday. Or how he regularly tweets out info from his unnamed “sources” minutes after someone from another outlet does. Most of his sources seem to be the same as mine – other real journalists’ twitter accounts.

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