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.
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.