My career as a sports media scholar is inextricably linked to Deadspin .
(Yes, I'm fully aware of how pretentious that sentence sounds).
My first piece of sports media-focused research was a study into the site's gatekeeping practices (in 2010) that I did as a master's study. The study was presented at the 5th Summit on Communication and Sport at Bradley University, my introduction to my friends in IACS and got me props from sports writing legend Dave Kindred (who told me that he came to the session specifically to hear my presentation. Yes, that's a shameless name drop. No, I have no shame).
My first published research article - a huge deal in the academic world - was a study I co-authored with my doctoral advisor Dr. Carol Lieber that revolved around the Manti Te'o story.
That story proved to be kind of a turning point for Deadspin - or more accurately, the public perception of Deadspin. It was such a brilliant piece of investigative sports journalism, such a brilliant and scathing evisceration of legacy sports media practices, that it changed how a lot of saw Deadspin. It wasn't just a place that published Brett Favre's cell-phone photos, or made fun of ESPN personalities anymore. It was a home for sports journalism, sports commentary.
In 10 years, Deadspin has become an indispensable part of the sports media landscape. What began as a snarky alternative sports blog has evolved into one of the top destinations for sports commentary, social commentary, sports media commentary and sheer entertainment.
It's biggest impact isn't in the Te'o story, or in its raunchy coverage of ESPN personalities. It wasn't buying Dan LeBatard's Hall of Fame ballot (one of my favorite Deadspin pieces, thanks to LeBatard's line "I always like a little anarchy inside the cathedral we've made of sports" which has informed my outlook on sports), or the wonderfully profane "Why Your Team Sucks" series leading into every NFL season.
The biggest impact is its expansion of the sports media marketplace. Deadspin begat The Big Lead, Awful Announcing, Kissing Suzy Kolber and countless other sports blogs. One of the most important aspects of Deadspin's decade is that it never tried to be like every other sports site. That's a credit to Will Leitch and the early writers. It never tried to be like a newspaper, only online and snarky. It never tried to be like ESPN. It had its own voice, it's own point of view, and it its way into the sports media mainstream.
Its presence makes sports media better.
The more voices we have, the better. The more options we have, the better. The promise of the digital media age is a wide-open, robust marketplace of ideas. This is the ideal that John Milton wrote about in the 17th century.
Deadspin makes the sports media marketplace much more open.
And sports media is all the better for it.