God Save the Fan

In my experience, most casual sports fans are unaware of Deadspin.com, the irreverent David to ESPN’s Goliath. But Will Leitch’s increasingly popular blog, which delivers “sports news without access, favor, or discretion,” has become a destination for diehard sports fans eager to propose and discuss issues (say, Michael Vick’s herpes?) that mainstream media won’t touch. Leitch, who launched Deadspin in September 2005, describes the genesis of this fan movement away from traditional sports journalism in God Save the Fan: How Preening Sportscasters, Athletes Who Speak in the Third Person, and the Occasional Convicted Quarterback Have Taken the Fun Out of Sports (And How We Can Get It Back). If the title sounds long-winded, so are portions of the book, a sometimes witty manifesto infused with personal essays and social commentary. Its 295 pages make it clear that Leitch, who plays in 11 (!) fantasy sports leagues, doesn’t have much respect for professional athletes. “Outside of the production of stats, athletes are pointless,” he writes. That’s certainly questionable. What’s unquestionable, however, is that sports devotees are flocking to Deadspin (844,000 unique visitors per month) and that even casual fans may soon be turning to renegade reporters like Will Leitch for their daily fix. –