Les Bowen Reminds Us That Young Sportswriters Are Dumb

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I waited to post this because I didn’t want to hop on a Tweet about Stan Hochman’s passing to go after Les Bowen. But, if you can strip out the part about Hochman being one of the best of his generation (agreed), then this Tweet all but sums up the archaic attitude of so many legacy media members, especially Bowen, who has a history of dismissing just about anyone younger than he is – Jeff McLane, Jimmy Kempski, Eliot Shorr-Parks – and just about everyone even remotely under the umbrella of new media.

Knew so much more than sports. Each generation since, successively less so.

What a dumb, and arrogant, Tweet. Les is basically saying that sportswriters from the Silent Generation were just so worldly that kids today would crumble under the weight of that sort of vast and wide-ranging knowledge. That Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, and the baby boomers, a generation so burnt out by the free-loving 60s that they find anything without rigid structure and a clear hierarchy appalling, were more cultured than the Gen X-ers who tore down their walls. [UPDATE: I originally lumped the Greatest Generation in with Baby Boomers, and for commenters, that was enough to disprove the other 600 words in the story.] And that us brash and entitled Millenials, disrupting things with newfangled broadband connections and apps, are undeserving of the ears our noise commands.

Fuck off.

Besides being completely dismissive of many of his younger peers, Les may also be completely wrong. Each successive generation has had more access to information than the last. It’s crazy to argue that, say, your grandmother knew more about the world in 1960 than us 20 or 30-somethings know today, just because she got her news from Walter Cronkite and the very narrow lens of the CBS Broadcasting Company*, or that your parents were more cultured because they remembered the Vietnam War… while they ate their sodium-packed, high-fructose corn syrupy snack manufactured by one of the three conglomerates serving up most of their households meals in the 1980s. Just because 26-year-olds don’t sit around and read newspapers on Sunday mornings doesn’t mean they aren’t acutely more aware of what’s going on in the world thanks to Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and even Buzzfeed. Some ink-stained newsmen conflate entertainment on the web with a lack of news consumption. Their logic: Because people watch cat videos, they don’t click on the ones about the Middle East. And yet, they completely fail to mention that America’s Funniest Home Videos unseated 60 Minutes for the top spot in the Nielson ratings under their watch, or that they sat in front of grainy screens for hours on end watching mindless variety shows. TV had (has) news and entertainment. The most popular sections in newspapers were Sports and the one that contained the TV listings. Those things are easily forgotten because everyone remembers an old white guy bringing them the news, or another old white guy spinning a hacky tale about a 23-year-old who shrugged off the weight of the world and restored American exceptionalism with a thunderous crack into the hearts of the Axis powers… but who actually just hit a home run in a baseball game on Tuesday night.

But no, please, Les, tell us more about how younger sportswriters, who now often exist outside the convention of game-press conference-story-hotel bar lore, and largely see through all the convenient narratives and manufactured bullshit and analyze the sport using advanced statistics or break stories with more societal weight than the faux heroism of some guy who lucked into connecting on a 3-2 slider, are so misinformed. I can’t wait to read all about it tomorrow morning.

*I checked Les’s’s’s Twitter account (@LesBowen) after writing this, and, hilariously, over the past 48 hours he has retweeted Tweets about Truman, Lincoln, and John Dickerson… the son of Nancy Dickerson, the first newswoman on CBS. And John Oliver. He gets credit for the John Oliver Tweet.

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73 Responses

  1. Who does he think he is?? Does he not know how much effort it takes to report on the everyday happenings of radio personalities? Or what a hot dog tastes like? Nobody has time for sports reporting when there are so many other non-stories to report. Back off, Les!

    1. The true indication of a bottom feeder is how they take such desperate aim at middle-feeders. That’s all Kyle has in his bag….drum up a few clicks by criticizing/sensationalizing sports reporters and AM/FM sportsradio deejays. Oh, and call great attention to anything that ever mentions him by name. That’s as middle of the pack as it gets, it’s as high as Kyle can ever aim, and it’s astounding how often he misses even that.

      Go getem, tiger.

  2. This rant epitomizes why no one who follows your blog likes you and your stuck-up smug superiority. Kyle knows everything. Kyle’s generation is the greatest. Kyle is never wrong. We’ve got computers on our wrists now! And broadband! This rant is so full of logical contradictions it’s not even funny. Having access to information is not the same think as thinking critically and applying said information.

    First of all, “the Greatest Generation” moniker refers to those who grew up in the Depression and fought in WWII, not the fucking baby boomers.

    Newsflash: Your kids and your grandkids’ generation will one day shit all over yours and the smug high regard you hold your generation in. They’ll tell you to fuck off with your stories about fucking Apple and cord cutting and how you revolutionized everything. Your no different than any generation that preceded you.

    1. “Greatest generation” that just so happen to openly discriminate against everyone who wasn’t a white male. We kind of ignore that point a lot; at least the newer generations are open minded and treat people equal unlike the “greatest generation” did.

      1. Not saying I agree with Tom Brokaw’s moniker, just clarifying what it actually refers to as Brokaw defined it, as Kyle (predictably) got it wrong (and, considering he has all of these knowledge resources at his fingertips — as he is continually reminding us — there’s really no excuse for it).

  3. Det. Bill Mitchell: Hey Keith, let me see your shoe.
    Keith Frazier: What?
    Det. Bill Mitchell: Lemme see your shoe.
    Keith Frazier: Why?
    Det. Bill Mitchell: ‘Cause I have never seen anyone put their foot that far up a guy’s ass.
    Keith Frazier: [Busts out laughing] Yeah, I guess I did, didn’t I?
    Det. Bill Mitchell: Man, you cut him an ass the length of the Lincoln Tunnel! We’re gonna need a traffic cop on that shit!

  4. The truth is today’s writers can’t write. There is no talent in their work. Lyons was a great columnist. Ford used to be great on a daily basis. Sheridan was artful. These were guys who went to school to write and had a mastery of the language. Now the paper hacks (and blogger jokes) throw fact-less opinion pieces written with a 3rd grade reading level. Les is a curmudgeon yes, but he is also an accomplished writer.

    1. I don’t think people are looking for grand descriptions of the game anymore. We have ESPN to see it for ourselves.

      People are looking for analysis. There are some good writers in the area for that. There are also a lot of hacks who spew opinions for clicks.

    2. Seriously, this is very much on point. I think Kyle needs to get perspective before he assumes this is some “get off my lawn” crap. It’s close, but it’s also ON POINT.

  5. Great post Kyle. There are a lot of smug, arrogant people who are afraid of the fact that the world is changing with every day that passes. Technology and up-and-comers are threats to the way things have always been done, and threats to the people who have been doing them for so long. For instance, sports radio continues to recycle the same names in this city… And when they have brought in new names, they’re disastrous blowhards who don’t fit this city and don’t have the knowledge (Looking at you, Innes and Shander.)

  6. You make an accurate point when you say that “each successive generation has had more access to information than the last.” What you fail to mention, however, is that each generation has also had more of a tendency to confuse “access to information” with “knowledge.” And “bandwidth” with “wisdom.”

    1. This guy nailed it.

      Kyle, your writing and grasp of information beyond sports and media is exactly what Les was getting at. He was right. And then you “crafted” a response that in a lot of ways gave support to his claim.

      And I’m of the millenial generation too.

      Hochman was a gem in more ways than one, but one thing he was great at was using analogies from a variety of disciplines/backgrounds. A well rounded writer. We don’t have as much of that today, and if we do you would have trouble seeing it above all the narrow-sighted writing that we are forced to sift through today.

  7. While I largely agree with your sentiment, I think the argument you use is too one-sided. While there may be more access to information nowadays (good), the focus has undoubtedly turned HUGELY into the direction of mindless drivel (bad). There’s no doubt that, by focusing on “news” such as Kim Kardashian’s latest hair color, the “media” shifts focus away from things that are more important – and we (young and old alike) largely buy it, hook, line and sinker. I think saying both “the good old days” and “the good new days” as black or white statements are equally dangerous. We have to recognize what has gotten better – AND worse – with technology and the passage of time.

  8. This website has lacked any real sports content over the last few weeks. I get that there isn’t much to be excited about in Philly sports, but who cares about what Les Bowen thinks?!?! I want to read about sports, not your opinion on an ancient daily news reporter.

  9. Kyle, you lose this one big. The older generatons, especially those brought up before the sixties, were much better educated, formally or informally. I am 50 and when I was young I was amazed at the knowledge the old timers had. Most were uneducated, formally at least, but their knowledge of politics, history, and economics was greater than the present generations.

    And if someone wants to bring up formal education, it is not arguable. The evidence is there for anyone to see if they research the curriculum from past decades or even centuries. Not only was the classroom education superior, but the mainstream magazines and newspapers were written on a level that would give most present day college kids trouble.

    And no, your iphones and end user skills dont make you superior in this regard. If anything they make learning more difficult, in all but a few situations.

    1. I don’t have time to pick your argument apart sentence by sentence, but you’re totally and utterly wrong. Go try to do your 8th graders math homework. You probably can’t. Every generation thinks they’re better/smarter than the ones that come after them. They aren’t. And if they are then they fucked up. You should be em parting your wisdom and knowledge to future generations, making them smarter and giving them a better life and future than you had. Otherwise you’re not doing it right.

      1. Kyle, I can do 8th grade math. Even if I couldn’t that isn’t really the point. Most people don’t use much math in life so they lose it. The kids now will probably forget what they learned in 8th grade by the time they are in their mid twenties. The question is, what are kids learning now and how does it compare to what they learned decades past. Like I said, the decline in standards can be objectively verified if someone takes the time to research it.

        I doubt a college education is probably worth as much as a high school education from the 50s and less than a junior high education form the 30s and earlier. And that may be generous. I will leave room for debate on science and math as these subjects seem to have declined less for those who actually major in them.

        Robert E. Lee, with an 8th grade education, was able to critique a translation of the Iliad against the original Greek. When you read literary magazine in the past, long passages of Greek, French, German, and Latin went untranslated as it was assumed anyone who could read didn’t require it.

        I once made the mistake of scoffing at one of my philosophy teachers who told me that in his time..the early sixties… he had perhaps ten times the workload as we did. He snapped at me. The next class he brought in the evidence.

    2. You couldn’t be more right Big Orange Cat … A buddy of mine, who is 24, is a school teacher who graduated high school himself only 6 years ago and he tells me all the time how amazed he is with how much they have “dumbed” down the curriculum. With the vast access to knowledge this generation has compared to many before them, you would think these kids would be geniuses but that’s not the case. Kyle, you absolutely lose big on this one. I do agree though, Les is a turd!!!

  10. les is bitter because he’s been writing for the daily news 30+ years and kyle makes more money than him with this blog.

  11. Where does my loudmouthed, opportunistic ass fall in this whole spectrum?

    Doesn’t anybody remember “Friday Night Lights?” Look at me, look at me…..

  12. All I’ll say is I really doubt Stan ever bitched about an organization not making themselves available to comment on bullshit, or about how an they won’t give him sound bytes that would write his article for him.

    Also-the baby boomers are not and have never been called the Greatest Generation. They’re actually probably the shittiest, and solely to blame for the economic problems of our country today.

    Btw Kyle-stop being so butthurt about people, and especially old media, not respecting bloggers. It’s not a good look and makes you seem desperate for approval. I lose a little respect for you everytime you write an article about it, or mention how you weren’t invited to some media day even though you didn’t want to go anyway.

  13. Les is right. Unless you think 50 years from now everyone will be remembering how great Frank Seravalli or Jeff Mclean were.

  14. You know what everyone said about Stan in the tributes? How nice he was to them when they were first coming up. Jason Stark shared a story about how Stan befriended him when he was just a kid interested in writing. I’m sure Les has his own story too.

    The difference between Stan’s generation and the ones that followed is that Stan’s generation wasn’t filled with bitter lazy bitches. Instead of putting the younger generation down because they were afraid they’d lose their job, they actually worked hard(er) so nobody could take it from them.

  15. Just because there is more access and resources to information in this age, does not make people of this generation smarter. In fact each generation of America seems to get dumber and dumber. A valuable tool like the internet is usually used to catch up with the Kardashians and other like garbage and twitter is usually about people fighting with each other and spreading gossip. People don’t even really read anymore. Hochman was very intelligent and well versed in intelligent subjects, not just sports, which was what Bowen was saying.

  16. There is only one writer of today whom I would dare compare with sports writers of generations past. ONE WRITER OF THEIR CALIBER. Joe Posnanski.

    Kyle, I don’t like the Les Bowens of the industry either but they aren’t always wrong.

  17. If you actually read Les’ statement, you’ll note that he doesn’t say or imply that he is of the same generation as Stan.

    Which he isn’t of course; Stan was 86, Les is a generation or a generation-and-a-half younger. So when Les says “EACH succeeding generation since, successively less so,” he is in fact including himself in the bell-curve of journalistic decline.

    The ensuing rant that “Les reminds us that young writers are dumb” pretty much misses this key point. The takeaway should maybe be that “at least one young writer is incredibly defensive and not the best at reading comprehension, either.”

  18. Gonna defend myself a little here. First off, I did screw up by lumping the Greatest Generation with Baby Boomers. Point still holds the same about structure and hierarchy and such. But I think many of you are mis-reading the point. If you’re at all familiar with the site and Les’ previous shots at basically anyone younger or who does something different than him, you’ll note that this is a trend. It’s not just one Tweet. He’s gone after Mike Florio, ripped Kempski, Eliot Shorr-Parks, blogs in general, me, and so on. This has nothing to do with Stan– it has everything to do with Les casting aside anyone younger than Hochman, including himself, and then anyone younger than him, etc. He’s saying that every generation of sportswriters is less informed about the world as a whole. I think that’s untrue. You’re right, access to more information doesn’t necessarily mean people consume it, but I’d wager heavily that people today DO consume more of it, even if it’s not through traditional methods. A 20-year-old probably knows more than a 20-year-old in 1990 simply by having access to Twitter, YouTube, 24-7 cable news outlets, and countless mainstream publications. And just because older writers made these wild references in their stories (Stan included– and this is nothing against Sam) doesn’t mean they’re more cultured. Sports writing has simply changed. People today see through many of those hackneyed comparisons for being what they are– cliches. That’s not saying there weren’t great writers then and now, but it has little to do with “knowing more.” Today, maybe it’s not history and politics, and world affairs, maybe it’s technology and finance, or sociology matters, thanks to ease of access to documentaries on Netflix and more people going to college. But to dismiss people proportionally just by their generation is absurd. And I’d argue there’s A LOT more and better sports writing now that is varied in its depth, creativity, and knowledge of the world as a whole. Old timey sports writers wouldn’t function in the outside world. Today, many younger writers have so many other skills that weren’t necessary way back when, that I’d again argue Les is very wrong. Older writers are revered partly because a very small number of them existed, ergo they became more important and their words carried more weight. There’s more noise today, yes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t just as much or more talent (I’d argue more).

    Still, a lot of this comes down to Les always being dismissive. In a vacuum, his Tweet didn’t deserve a post. But it’s a theme with him, and I wanted to call him out on his bullshit.

    1. “A 20-year-old probably knows more than a 20-year-old in 1990 simply by having access to Twitter, YouTube, 24-7 cable news outlets, and countless mainstream publications. ” I’m trying to wrap my head around this statement…..OK, let’s see, so you’re saying that because I get to read stupid, racist tweets from entitled celebrities that I am better off- AND more intelligent?! Only positive is that because of this medium we get to see who the racists, misogynists, and bigots of the world are. Oh, that’s right I also get to hear about “news” quicker. This is also awesome since I don’t know how I’d be able to live without getting the news of one of my teams making a trade AS IT WAS HAPPENING! Youtube- WTF?!? Am I able to see the Stones at Altamont, The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl, big games such as Phillies Astros NLCS game 5 or Flyers- Bruins 2010 playoffs? Yes I am but how dafuq does it give me smartness?!?! 24 hour news. Name one person in that sesspool who is educating me. Nothing but a bunch of loudmouth blowhards who think that if they shout louder than the others they win the debate.

    2. No, you’re missing Les’s point, Kyle. Big surprise.

      He’s not dismissing every young person as stupid, he’s calling out specific “writers” who say stupid things or sound very uneducated via their lack of varied or nuanced writing skills.

      So those people – like yourself – are younger then him…..so what? The older you get, the younger others around you will be by comparison. It’ll happen to you too, brah. The trick is to try to up your appearance of intelligence during the process. You have work to do.

  19. The dumbing down of America. Valentimes Day. Supposibly. calling someone a “looser”. lazy incorrect vocabulary. cut and paste rather than actually reading something.

    I’m 57 years old. in the 5th grade i had a reading comprehension level of a senior in high school. that means nothing unless you apply what you have learned.

    there is a gap between the Les Bowens and Kyle Scotts in todays sports journalism; as Gunny Highway said in “Heartbreak Ridge” ….” I taught my men how to adapt and survive”. All the wisdom and memories of Stan Hochman need to live on through younger scribes who repsect those who came before them. RESPECT.

  20. my step son is 22. ranked #7 in World of Warcraft in North America. (whatever that means). He got all his info from “Family Guy”. He asked me about the guy who shot Abe Lincoln…he said “that John Wilkes Phone Booth” guy….and he asked about the country singer “Kanye Twitty”

    Kyle is correct….no need to be dismissive.

    1. not really digging post-pregnancy alicia, i got to admit i have a little crush on jillian, shes cute, but better naked i’m going with the black mamba shirleen all day…nice titties and im sure she has a big ass…….sometimes she’s got a little michael jackson/sammy sosa thing going on with her skin tone though

      1. Mele has lost some hotness points by spending 2 hrs a day looking scared of the camera on BoB, and Alicia was always zaftig, but agree that lately she’s gotten a lil too zaftig.

  21. Kyle, unprofessional. Anyone that uses foul language in their blogs should be deemed as a poor writer. It’s classless. I think you studied about being an idiot as your major. It couldn’t have been journalism.

  22. Damn! Sandy Grady just died…87 years old. From his obit… After Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns trampled the Eagles, Sandy wrote:

    “Jim Brown runs as if the earth is his enemy.”

    Bask in the wit, insight, and humanity of that line and lift a glass to another old-timey sportswriter who couldn’t work in today’s world.

  23. i am a 64 year old white guy, and Les Bowen is a dope. I go to crossing broad all the time. I despise Baby Boomers, and THIER all about me attitudes.

    Keep up the good work CB, especially the radio wars.

  24. Dude, Bowen isn’t dismissive of all people younger than him! That’s small minded. You know, in the way that your small mind is dismissive of every boomer.

    Les is being dismissive of you! … and Kempski, and Shor-Parks, although neither of them are technically millenials. It’s not about age, it’s about talent. That elusive quality that you aren’t even clever enough to recognize you lack.

    There are a lot of very talented, very smart millenials. Good writers. Interesting people. Asking the right questions and moving culture forward! However, you are not among them.

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