From The Inbox

Sports journalism is no place to be pulling punches

John Hawkins and Mike Purkey won’t be mistaken for the dudes at Barstool Sports any time soon, but the new kids have a place in the game, too

Are sports writers journalists? After listening to Hawk & Purk's take on Barstool Sports, I began to wonder (“Episode 2: It’s Old School vs. New School,” Jan. 14).

Mike Purkey certainly thinks that Barstool is the spawn of Satan and all that is wrong with the world. They should not even be on the same course with him if he's playing. Well, OK, boomer! (Full disclosure: I'm 72 and one of the older boomers.)

I think of a journalist as one who seeks out the truth and publishes it. Sports writers, intent on retaining access to the players and teams they cover, tend to avoid inconvenient truths. Take cheating on the PGA Tour. Patrick Reed recently has been pilloried for cheating. Or has he? Some writers, including John Hawkins, have declined to label Reed's beach excavation as cheating, apparently because Reed was penalized and accepted the penalty.

There have been numerous published reports of habitual cheating on the PGA Tour. Of course, these are always anonymous and name no names. The PGA Tour is, as always, silent on anything that contradicts the “they're all fine young men” party line. If golf writers were journalists, would they not seek to expose this unsavory and illegal behavior? And wouldn't the PGA Tour want to penalize or otherwise sanction this rule-breaking? Best not to rock the boat and lose access and, in the Tour's case, possibly stem the deluge of money that is the modern tour.

If there is a golf “journalist” today, his name is Brandel Chamblee, and you can tell how popular he is with the players and the boys at Ponte Vedra. Kudos to Golf Channel for keeping him on staff.

So, there are many great sports writers – Dan Jenkins and Frank Deford are two of my favorites, both sadly departed. But journalists by my definition are thin on the ground. Are Barstool and similar entities the coming thing? Yes and no. There will be more of this, and fans enjoy the freewheeling, snarky hot take. But they don't mistake it for the more serious musings of writers such as Hawkins and Purkey.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

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