No matter what you think of journalistic ramifications of the apparently imminent TMZSports.com — whether it will be a failure, cause a tabloid war, change the gossip game or, simply, make an icksickle — the effects will probably be more profound for athletes than journalists.
But how will it alter the athletes who don’t seem to have much dirty laundry? For perspective on that question, The Houston Chronicle found former Duke star and Rockets forward Shane Battier, the type of student-athlete that coaches and professors in Durham still gush about:
“That’s the last thing we need as athletes,” Shane Battier said.
Battier told a reporter he was welcome to follow him around, but cautioned there wouldn’t be much dirt to be dug. But Battier recognizes he might be the exception, too.
“The way I look at it is, people want to have the experience of being an athlete or being a rock star,” he said. “Being on the inside… That’s what pro sports have sold, be it helmet cams or cameras in the locker room. It’s become a very, I think, dangerous thing, trying to mess with the integrity of the sport when you allow too much access. It’s unfortunate – I think it takes from our job, the sports side of it, and it makes more of a reality show.
“It’s the life we choose,” he said. “I’m not complaining about it. I love my life. It’s a different era than the Bird-Magic era of the ‘80s when you just played basketball and went home at the end of the night.”
I’m sure many of Battier’s former teammates would agree, heavyheartedly, with that last sentiment.
UPDATE | 10 a.m.: Looks like Battier isn’t the only former Blue Devil with an opinion on TMZ Sports. Per the Orlando Sentinel:
J.J. Redick read about TMZsports.com on Deadspin.com and said he wasn’t really worried about it because he doesn’t really do anything newsworthy. He also doesn’t think there’s a big market for sports gossip.