Jemele Hill and L.Z. Granderson are two ESPN columnists who share a common goal: bore readers with social issues that infringe upon our love of sports. The interesting thing is, they’re both featured as part of ESPN.com’s “Page 2,” a sideshow of sports media coverage which generally displays a humorous undertone. Hill and Granderson are two columnists who stray far from humor, however. In our Utopia of sports, they’re the buzzkills who tend to rain on our parade. Think of the guy at your party who drinks diet soda, sits in the corner, and refuses to participate in anything fun. That’s Hill and Granderson in a nutshell.
In recent months, Hill (pictured at right) has written articles on the abolition of fan voting when it comes to the Pro Bowl (no one watches anyways, so why take away the only fun part of it), a scathing rebuke of the Plaxico Burress incident (what, like you’ve never shot yourself in the leg?), and a profile of her father and her faith (touching, but definitely lacking intrigue to non-Hills everywhere). At one point, she compared the World Champion Boston Celtics with Adolf Hitler, netting her a suspension from ESPN for her unenlightened (or, perhaps, overenlightened, in her mind) point of view. Granderson (pictured at left), for his part, has interviewed New York Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari (who?), the inspiration of Mia Hamm (did Sounders fans even read this?), and a piece entitled “Why are we still talking about Pacman?” (why are you still talking about Pacman? Face.).
Now I’m not trying to insinuate that what they’re doing isn’t respectable, because it is. It’s just not what we, as sports fans, want to hear about. Sports, like television and movies, are our break from reality. When we indulge ourselves with sports, we don’t want to hear about the social ramifications of Player X’s actions, or be chided for not reacting in a certain ethical way to what occurred with Player Z. Understandably, Hill, Granderson, and other columnists like them have an opinion on what occurs. That’s great. It’s expected. But we don’t care. We don’t care about why we should appreciate your charity case’s outstanding performance in the Lesbian Professional Curling League. We don’t care about your kid sister’s outlook on life. We don’t care about things like that. We want to be awed, overwhelmed, entertained. We want to laugh, we want to cry, we want our blood pressure to rise. We don’t want grim seriousness. We don’t need flatlines. It’s something that the socially conscious journalist–like an Oscar-winning dramatic film director or the great American novelist–may never understand. What you do is fantastically amazing in the grand scheme of life, but to the everyman, it’s just not that cool.
L.Z. Granderson and Jemele Hill are good storytellers. If they were writing for Time or Life, maybe then we could fully appreciate what they’re trying to bring to the table. But as sports fans, we just can’t sit idly by and deal with their oh-so-holy bullcrap. You may find a certain level of acceptance in soup kitchens or book clubs, but here, in the Great Wide World of Sports, we’re not having it.