Friday, May 16, 2008

Khornball Sells Bought Out

Those in the Greater Washington, D.C. Area sports market seem to be bemoaning the buying out of Khornball by the (Com)Post. We wouldn't be surprised to see the usual suspects pointing to this (either publicly or privately) as another sign of the apocalypse for the Print Media industry and they're right.

But that's not the point of this post or really Khornball's buyout in our opinion. We hear at Bleatings from a Caps Nut prefer to look at this as nothing more than a formality. It has been years since Khornball ceased to be a serious sports journalist. No further evidence of this is needed other than a link to his current archives. That's right folks, here we are over 4 and half months into 2008 and Khornball has banged out only two columns. To his credit, it is two more than he wrote in all of 2007, but just what in the world was he doing for the (Com)Post to earn his salary? Sure, he has the pithy little blurbs recycled from the World Wide Leader in Schlock show he co-stars with Michael Wilbon running on a somewhat daily basis. But Wilbon has written five columns this month alone for the (Com)Post and seems to have little problem blending his job as a sports columnist with his other duties as a TV show host, NBA "Expert," and general know-it-all-with-a-chip-on-this-shoulder.

It is sad really, Khornball at one point in time was a worthy columnist worth reading. Most Caps fans will never forgive him for his skewering of the Caps in the 1980's but can any honest Caps fan dispute his "choking dogs" monniker for those teams? We certainly can't because we honestly believe that the Caps should have won at least one if not two or more Stanley Cups in the 1980's but for one reason or another, never got the job done. (It forms the basis for our irrational hatred of Bryan Murray) There is also the disgust over his abuse of the NHL over the years. Khornball however openly admits that he knows nothing about hockey and as is a natural defense to ridicule something when you know little about it in order to avoid being mocked yourself for being ignorant. (Mike Wise knows that feeling) Though we do give Khornball credit for writing about hockey on a regular basis because it is more than his buddy Wilbon does who knows as much about hockey as Khornball does and is too scared to write about it.

But his ignorance of hockey doesn't mean wasn't a great writer at one point in time. Driving down memory lane and reading his Bandwagon Columns, you see just how good Khornball once was. One could easily look at those and wondered just what happened? How did a guy who was funny, sarcastic, witty, clever, and just plain good turn so bad. The irony is, those columns right there were the beginning of the end. They mark is decent into a guy more committed to shtick than substance.

By that point in time Khornball had been a semi-regular on local TV and radio and appeared on ESPN's Sports Reporters (A side note here, while we were intially intrigued and for a point in time, addicted to watching the Sports Reporters, we've always wondered why Sports needed their own version of "The McLaughlin Group.") frequently but nothing big. But it was the Bandwagon Columns chronicling the 1991 Washington Redskins that really launched him into national fame. Khornball was booked on TV and Radio more often and it was only a matter of time before he got his own microphone when Sports Talk Radio finally made its way into Washington, D.C.

Since the last Redskins Super Bowl Victory, Khornball has "written" three books, started his own show on ESPN, is a panelist on two local sports shows, started, left, and then returned to his own nationally syndicated radio show, and is now unquestionably running the Monday Night Football Production. For a guy who ""all [he] ever wanted to be was a newspaper writer," he's strayed rather far. It is also telling that presented with a buyout offer, Khornball took it instead of giving up everything else that has taken him away from his first love.

This our friends is what we call "a teachable moment." Yep this is another sign of the demise of print journalism because companies like the (Com)Post can no longer afford to keep distinguished veterans like Khornball around. But this is also a warning to members the "new media" (aka Bloggers) who could very easily fall into the same trap. It starts out innocently enough with an appearance on a local TV and/or radio show. The first time it happens you really don't do very well because you're so excited and nervous about being on the air. But you don't do so bad that you don't get more invitation to appear on the local media outlets. You become more and more confident with each and every apperance and that leads to national exposure and you pinch yourself again as the big guys are now asking little old YOU for your opinion on various matters. You gain confidence there too and before you know it, you're getting programs all to yourself and you've come so far from what you were originally doing, you can't believe it. You begin to believe that because you're getting airtime in the Mainstream Media that your opinions and views cannot be questioned by anybody. You believe that you are capable of changing the world and so and so forth. (We know what you're thinking, we're not just about certain sports bloggers out there, we've seen this creep into bloggers in other realms such as political and gossip sites. Sports bloggers are not alone in this.) You then reach a point where your blog really isn't your blog anymore. Somebody else is writing the majority of it for you and/or what you do happen to write is so self absorbed that it really isn't any good. It is more about you than it is what you're writing about.

This our friends is pretty much what happened to Khornball. He isn't the only sports columnist to have this happen to him, he just happens to be the Washington, D.C. example. Michael Wilbon could qualify for this too but Wilbon again continues to actually write columns for the (Com)Post. But what took place this week with Khornball and the (Com)Post was started a long time ago. The sadness is not that Khornball is leaving, but that he made the decision to never return to what made him good in the first place.

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