I get that Gary Catwright believes his generation of sportswriters is the best that ever was. Believe me, I get it. I even agree.
I grew up reading Blackie Sherrod's transcendant scattershootings in the Dallas Times Herald and while at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram I penned praise pieces on Dan Jenkins. I even kneel at their shrine via Facebook.
I get it.
But in the June issue of Texas Monthly Cartwright not only praises his runnin' and writin' and drinkin' and leotard-wearin' buddies, he goes out of his way to trash the rest of us. It's his old-school premise that not a single coherent word has been published by a Texas sportswriter since we all from deteriorated from Underwood typewriters to Internet laptops.
"The greats of yesteryear have been replaced by dabblers, hacks, and homers, glorified fans with press credentials that permit them to leech onto some sports outfit, usually their hometown team, and bray or bitch about its wonders or shortcomings in the dead language of statistics to audiences who wouldn't know an original sentence if one crawled up their nose with a firecracker."
That, I don't get.
It's sanctimonious. It's stupid. It's sour grapes? It's like the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrining Tom Landry while holding a separate press conference to remind us all that Wade Phillips really, really sucks.
Life and, in turn, sportswriting was different back in the days of guys with fedoras and suits and black-and-white mug shots dictating stories that would be screamed from the corner: "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" Our food is faster. Our news is quicker. Our attention span is shorter. Our free time is smaller.
Our sportswriting is ... still damn good. The demand has changed, and so the supply. But the product's cause remains unchanged: To entertain and inform. In reality, isn't sportswriting just shorter and snappier and delivered in seconds instead of by horseback?
I might argue that Cartwright's romanticizing of his country-fried era is the same sort of sentiment that old-timers think of their "greats of yesteryear" in Chicago, in New York, in San Francisco, in Boston, in L.A. ... and that furthermore, today's writers will romanticize about their adventures 40 years hence.
But that doesn't make any of them great. It just makes them romantic.
When Cartwright returns home via lantern-lit carriage and dips his quill into a well of ink to disparage entire generations of sportswriters - he's bullying the Austin American-Statesman Cedric Golden, really? (Guess it's hard to pick on somebody your own size when you dwarf everyone in your profession.) - I wonder if he really believes what he spews. Or is he merely falling into the Good Ol' Days Syndrome trap of trying to remind us how much his era won by opining that the rest of us are miserably losing?
I should feel insulted by him. I instead feel embarrassed for him.
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Had Gary written a piece about the greatness of cohorts Blackie and Jenkins, it might've been a classic memoir-type column. Instead, Cartwright's article is essentially about ... the greatness of Cartwright.
If Cartwright's so great, shouldn't he be better than that?
If Cartwright's so great, why is he "braying and bitching"?
If Carwright's so great, shouldn't his greatness be self-evident?