Though this is my first post (first comment too, now that I think on it) I’ve been coming to this site consistently since the summer of 2010. I’m a Utah native, born and raised, but I hadn’t really cared about or followed the Jazz since the 2009 season. One of the things that drew me to this site was the writing. Funny, incisive, on point, this place always made me laugh. From the outcry at drafting Hayward, the shock at Sloan stepping down and the Deron trade, to the tanking present, I’ve mostly enjoyed reading the posts and comments on this site. But I’ve noticed some things that have been giving me more and more pause lately, that have made this site less fun than it used to be. The structure’s there, but the spirit is missing.
Some context here might be useful. I’ve been a fairly avid basketball and football fan since 2008, the first year I really paid meaningful attention to one of my favorite teams, the Utah Utes. I grew up in Utah County, just twenty minutes from the Ute’s archrival, BYU, which meant I’m no stranger to the facts of holding unpopular views on sports. In my case, that meant not thinking Max Hall was a great, upstanding man, and that BCS titles had more relevance than a championship won in the 80’s. It also prepared me for being a Jazz fan, in the eyes of the national media.
Utah doesn’t get games on national TV, we don’t have a whole ESPN website dedicated to Salt Lake... Most of what we have is the local media. And that (radio) media? Is often terrible. It reads like a mouthpiece at times, creates separation between fan and team, and badmouths players it had fawned over the second they join another team. Or as PR demands. There’s no independence, just what ‘needs to be said‘ as far as I can tell.
As I said before, one of the things I love about this site (and SB Nation in general) is the independence of it’s staff and writers. This website offers a look outside of the mainstream spin, and isn’t afraid to address the fact that what’s happening on the court doesn’t always match the press releases.
But reading independent thinkers doesn’t automatically grant independent thought. Good writing only makes a place for people to think outside the box, if they choose. That’s where this site falls short right now. When I read pieces, or comments, for whatever reason they lack a spark, and often feel reactive. Corbin’s not a good coach, but fetishizing hatred of him is so completely unhealthy I can’t even describe it. This site can’t change who reads it, or what those readers think, but I like it a lot more when it’s about love of the game and team, instead of getting pissy that Richard Jefferson sees the court.
Before a reader gets the wrong impression, this isn’t an easy team to love right now. The Jazz suck. 2nd worst in the league suck. Positivity about this team... is not easy. It’s easy to get trapped in the present, and forget the future. And it’s even easier to lash out at those who don’t see things the same way, be they fellow fan or radio host. That said, I’ll never forget the day I realized that, in some ways, this site can create it’s own feedback loop. While each writer on this site, from Amar to Mylo, are independent people, not Borg Jazz fans, I don’t feel that differing views are given similar treatment. Ridiculous comments that agree with prevailing ideas are passed over, or corrected without venom (the right way), while the comments and posters that disagree are often dismissed, belittled, or accused of being company mouthpieces. That’s not a friendly environment. That’s flat out hostile. More importantly, that kind of homogeny never leads to resolution, only more anger and hate at the offending coughCorbincough parties. And while the site is better about those loops than it used to be, I can see it creeping back in angry replies and dismissive comments.
I love this site. I read it every day, and I feel like a smarter person, and sports fan, for having done so. I don’t expect to agree with everyone I meet. If I meet a person who hates Corbin, fantastic. Ditto if they love him. Their opinion, and fan-hood, are their own, and don’t reflect on the team or me in any way. But while hate-fans are fun to talk to, I’m more likely to be friends with the ones who can see the big picture. That’s what I love about the Dunk. And that’s why this pettiness in this season of
discontent discovery gets me down. Stay classy, Jazz-peeps. We’re all we’ve got.