Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Media | Sports

June 8, 2011

Watching the Sports Media

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch covers the sporting press. He tells Gelf what he thinks of his colleagues and some of his competitors.

David Goldenberg

Want to know what's going on in sports media—and what to think about it? Follow @RichardDeitsch on Twitter. The prolific tweeter—and Sports Illustrated media writer—weighs in on everything from the new NBC-Olympics deal to Bill Simmons's new (and likely fleeting) position above Rick Reilly on the home page. Deitsch is the rare journalist who hasn't let his post at one of the big boys in the field change the critical way he thinks about the ever-growing beast that is sports media. Deitsch the writer is fair to his subjects and generous with crediting other reporters. Deitsch the tweeter is funnier and more cutting.

Richard Deitsch
"My dream as a kid was to work at Sports Illustrated, and I got very lucky."

Richard Deitsch

In the following interview, which was conducted by email and has been edited for clarity, Gelf asks Deitsch the same questions posed to our guests at the recent 5th anniversary Varsity Letters. In his responses, Deitsch says he doesn't cheer for teams anymore, explains how he'd score a point against Federer, and discloses what the stakes will be for his next bet with co-panelist Jemele Hill.

Gelf Magazine: Favorite linkable thing you've read recently?

Richard Deitsch: "How to spot a psychopath," by Jon Ronson of the Guardian.

Gelf Magazine: Favorite sports-related Twitter feed to read?

Richard Deitsch: I'd rather give you a non-sports one: @big_picture. It might be the single best feed on Twitter.

Gelf Magazine: Which sports moment in history would you like to have witnessed in person?

Richard Deitsch: Jesse Owens winning the 100 at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Gelf Magazine: In a game of one-on-one to 25 against Kobe Bryant, how many points would you score? How many points would you win in a set against Roger Federer?

Richard Deitsch: I would score zero points on Kobe if he decided to go all-out on defense. I'll predict one point on Federer because I'd gun it on every serve, and hope the Gods of fate would allow me a cheap point.

Gelf Magazine: What is the most embarrassing thing to happen to a sports figure recently?

Richard Deitsch: Anthony Weiner has trumped everyone in sports this week.

Gelf Magazine: What percent of pro athletes vote? What percent are Democrats? Republicans?

Richard Deitsch: I'd imagine the percentage of athletes who vote matches the general public. I know for certain that the PGA has far more Republicans than Democrats, but after that, I'd have to take it on an individual athlete basis. I do wish athletes were more political, though there is no charter that says they must.

Also, here are Deitsch's answers to our vital stats questions, asked of each Varsity Letters guest:

Gelf Magazine: Whom do you agree with more, Will Leitch or Buzz Bissinger? (Even though these days Buzz is a friend of Deadspin's.)

Richard Deitsch: I'd rather debate whether Artie Lange was a good choice for Joe Buck Live.

Gelf Magazine: Are the following sports: gymnastics, golf, archery, bowling, cheerleading, weightlifting?

Richard Deitsch: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Gelf Magazine: Favorite teams growing up, and favorites now:

Richard Deitsch: The Mets, Islanders, and Sixers were my favorite teams growing up. Today, I subscribe to the notion that you should not root for teams as a member of the working press, but I will say I want all Buffalo teams to do well because of my fondness for the city. Having lived in Ann Arbor, I also have a warm spot for UM sports.

Gelf Magazine: What's your dream sportswriting job?

Richard Deitsch: My dream as a kid was to work at Sports Illustrated, and I got very lucky. The one thing I hope to produce in the future is an amusing novel.

Gelf Magazine: Where will the best sportswriting be published in 10 years?

Richard Deitsch: Everywhere and anywhere, and you'll be reading it on some kickass mobile device.

Gelf Magazine: What's the best sports venue to visit?

Richard Deitsch: Wimbledon is high on the list. So is Bernabeu Stadium, where the tour allows you to walk around the pitch, check out the visitors' dressing room, and sit on the player benches. I'd also recommend Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.

Gelf Magazine: Who's your favorite mainstream sportswriter? Least favorite? Why?

Richard Deitsch: If you look at the masthead of SI, you'll understand why I can't pick the best mainstream writer. Whether at the Olympics or other projects, I've worked with everyone on staff over the last decade, and it's remarkable how good these men and women are at the craft. If you want someone who deserves more press from her public relations apparatus, it's Elizabeth Merrill of The woman can write.

Gelf Magazine: Put the following sportswriters in order from your most to least favorite: Bill Simmons, Mitch Albom, Dan Shaughnessy, Peter Gammons, Deadspin's A.J. Daulerio, Rick Reilly.

Richard Deitsch: It'd be far more amusing to rank that quintet in order of salary and ego. I'd argue all of those guys bring something to the table, though I probably read Gammons the least and Daulerio the most of that group.

Gelf Magazine: One last Q, since we just stumbled upon this review of a bet you lost to your fellow Varsity Letters panelist, Jemele Hill: Any more bets planned with Jemele?

Richard Deitsch: I won't rest until Jemele Hill is one day carrying a sign in Bristol, Conn., reading "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED RULES."

David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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Article by David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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