Blogger-turned-ESPN writer Bill Simmons points out the diminishing role of sports journalists in his latest column, suggesting that in the age of Facebook, the blogosphere and Twitter, athletes no longer need the media. "This isn't a good thing or a bad thing," he adds.
It's good for athletes -- who can wield much more control over the ways they are presented to fans -- and, in many ways, it's good for fans, who have more options for getting news on their favorite athletes and teams.
Now, the "bad": It calls into question the relevance of traditional sports journalists, whose traditional "gatekeeping" role has been eroded. And although that is a "bad thing" in some ways, it also provides the media establishment a chance to retool the ways journalists cover sports, moving away from personality- and game-driven coverage and to a public-service approach that critically looks at the institutions and practices in sports at every level -- asking and answering tough questions about the links between sports and tax dollars, education and social values, for instance.
That's the kind of coverage an athlete's blog can never take from journalists.
And that would be a very good thing.