I have a voracious appetite of for online sports commentary, analysis, and rumors. Recently, whether Michigan State's basketball coach, Tom Izzo, would bolt to coach in the pros was the big story around her. At the news conference where he announced his decision to stay in East Lansing, the university president, A.D. and Coach Izzo all criticized "the media" for its role in hyping the story and running off half-cocked with unfounded rumors during the nine day "Will he or won't he?" drama.
The Old Guard
In response to these cliched jabs at the media, our resident dean of sports writing, Mitch Albom, metaphorically cleared his throat with a large harumph! and took the university to task for its criticism of those in his trade:
Look. An institute of higher learning already should know there is no such thing as a single "media" anymore. You cannot put credible newspapers or television stations in the same sentence as tweeters. You cannot lump legit Internet posts with a blog that begins in some guy's basement.
How ironic. If Albom was not so busy with his "entertainment plus news, traffic, sports and weather" radio show , book signings, etc. he might have noticed that his former sports writing buddies (as well as sportscasters) are hustling to become that blogging and tweeting guy in the basement.
What makes Albom an "expert" whose opinion on the Izzo decision has more value than others? He's a talented writer to be sure, but there is little evidence that he follows sports very closely with all his other lucrative distractions. While others lack the same talent for turning a phrase they have not lost their passion for sports. I'm more interested n their opinions. In this 24/7 news age, no voice should get preference simply because of an appointed position based on past journalistic accomplishments.
A Strained Analogy
What makes for expertise these days? I think about this question a good deal. I encourage my students to venture outside the box for their research, seeking untraditional sources of "expertise" for their CBL projects. My whole concept of M-Hub is premised about the importance of learning how to do this for future careers. Through my own initiative and my personal learning network, I have developed areas of "expertise" in educational technology. I actually have thirty hours of post-masters university work in a degree program in this domain. But the university credits toward a degree-- certainly the traditional way of measuring expertise -- are absolutely worthless compared to what I have learned independently.
So, yes Mitch, you write your column from a traditional perch under the Free Press banner (For all I know, you pounded out the words in your basement). But I no longer recognize your expertise on the day-to-day of sports. And since you don't deign to blog or tweet, I don't really follow you very closely. Perhaps your reputation is secure with all those folks who read ink on paper and see you photo above the fold. Good luck with all that.
Mitch developing his sports expertise at a Seven People You Meet in Heaven book signing. Flickr CC photo by [James]