9. Which Sports Writers have the Most Influence?
RCS: We’re in the midst of a massive media realignment, during which it has been difficult to determine which sports columnists have the most influence. Excluding yourself, which sports writers do you think have the most influence, and how do you determine that?
Whitlock: Good question. When I was at the Final Four this year you could really sense the dramatic shift in power from newspaper columnists to Internet columnists. Guys like Wetzel, Mark Kriegel, Pat Forde, Gregg Doyel and Mike Freeman are the new power players. Bill Simmons is my favorite columnist. He stays in his lane. I love him at this time of the year, NBA playoffs. He shamed Doc Rivers into sitting down Tony Allen in Game 7. Simmons predicted early on that the Bulls-Celtics would be an all-time classic. Bill Simmons knows the NBA as well as anybody in the country. And that knowledge shows up in his writing in an extremely entertaining way.
Wetzel knows college basketball better than anybody. Kriegal has boxing on lock and a biographer's eye for putting events in context. Forde is the truth on college football and basketball. In this age, you better have a niche, an area of expertise, a sport or an issue you write better than everyone else. For different reasons, Jay Glazer (news) and Peter King (insight) own the NFL. The era of general columnist is dead. The Internet killed the general sports columnist. People want specific things and they expect to get it.