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"Athlete Dong:" A Sign of the State of Deadspin

“Of all the things I thought Deadspin would end up being known for, back in September 2005, “pictures of the typically large penises of professional athletes” would have not been high on the list. But art evolves, you know?”

And so begins Will Leitch’s first Deadspin HOF Nominee post of the year. It is, if nothing else, a perfect encapsulation of where the highly visible sports blog is headed (and, by extension, the road most of us will follow).

During the past year, the Gawker Media production has taken heat for some questionable journalist practices. From the ESPN horndoggery series to the Brett Favre-Jenn Sterger debacle, the blog drifts further and further into the tabloid sphere.

It wasn’t hard to see this coming.

When A.J. Daulerio first got the Deadspin editor gig, I noted that he averaged more pageviews than Leitch. It was a small sample size, but the new head did have a bit more of a nose for scandal – dong shots and otherwise – than the Emeritus. (And traffic-crazed Nick Denton certainly encouraged this behavior.)

That’s not to say Deadspin is falling into the realm of ridiculousness. Daulerio, Tommy Craggs, and the rest of the gang do an excellent job pointing out the hypocrisy and absurdity of the sports world. Drew Magary is a genius (comedic and otherwise), Katie Baker is one of the most refreshing voices in the sports media world, and Deadspin was on Jay Mariotti, Stephen A. Smith, and Jason Whitlock well before their actual media meltdowns. Plus, their ongoing investigation of Rick Reilly needs to happen as does calling out ESPN for the absurd excuse they used as justification for killing a “LeBron parties in Vegas” story.

Deadspin plays a vital role in the new sports media landscape. They are doing good work. But you wish they wouldn’t be quite so “dong, etc.” obsessed. Then again, if voting were to end right now, “Athlete Dong” would fall short of the HoF. Maybe the commentors will get it right after all? (That’s a scary thought.)

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