Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Internet, Where Everyone is a Troll: Jason Collins's Free Agency and the New York Times

The New York Times is synonymous with quality journalism, in-depth and worldwide reporting, and is basically held up as the antithesis to dipshitty blogs written by kids in their 20s and Internet trolls. However, to quote Howie Day's "Collide": even the best fall down (and Internet troll) sometimes. Howard Beck, a respected Nets and Knicks beat writer (or, more likely, his editors), published a piece that vaguely speculated on Jason Collins's free agency. I guess a few page clicks are more important than, you know, journalism and an understanding of NBA free agency.

The full article, titled "Approval, but No New Team Yet, for Collins", can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/sports/basketball/approval-but-no-new-team-yet-for-collins.html?ref=sports.

This is the definition of a non-news story. Jason Collins has not been signed by a team because veterans on minimum contracts are the very, very last people to get signed. The article mentions that Collins waited until July 31 last season before signing with the Wizards and four years earlier he was not signed until September 2 by the Hawks. Teams first spend their available cap space on big stars, and then middle-tier players, before finally turning to veterans. This is how free agency works in the NBA if you're gay or straight.

Nonetheless, the NYT feels that it should just float out the fact that Collins has not heard from any teams. The story itself is very straightforward and points out that Collins, with Collins himself being quoted, is expecting to wait. Beyond that, it simply speculates on the impact that a gay NBA player would have. There is nothing to report here. A player that wasn't expected to be signed by July 9 has not been signed. There are dozens of veteran players just like Jason Collins waiting by their phones while the Dwight Howards and Josh Smiths of the league ink eight-figure annual deals (if don't believe me, check out Kenyon Martin's Instagram).

This is an article written to put Jason Collins back into our minds and plant the idea that something wrong might be going on. To a casual fan, the kind who is likely reading the NYT's sports section, this might seem inherently unfair, a case of prejudice against the first openly gay player. It is no such thing. Howard Beck knows this, the New York Times knows this, and Jason Collins knows this. This is a troll job by the NYT, a few cheap page views masquerading as "news" and nothing more.

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