Drew Magary talks to us about growing up the only sports fan in his family, the price of sportswriting, and the worst instincts of being a fan
I’ve seen Drew Magary’s writing style described as “salty,” but that doesn’t really do it justice. As Drew told us, he writes in way that “appeal(s) to the worst instincts of being a fan.” He’s that nut job tailgating in the parking lot, except he knows what he’s talking about. And, even scarier, he knows he’s smarter than you. His Deadspin piece on the NFL lockout was the best thing written on the topic.
In addition to the work he does for Deadspin, he helped found Kissing Suzy Kolber. The site is best known for their “Fun with …” series, where they mock the latest dumb columns by the latest lazy sportswriter. They’re necessary because they call out media members for their bullshit, but—along with Jason Gay and Jon Bois—it’s also some of the funniest sportswriting on the Internet, if you can stomach it.
And yes, Drew is smarter than you. His first novel, The Postmortal, comes out today. It’s about what would happen to humanity if we suddenly became immortal. It’ll become a multi-millionaire dollar movie, Drew will become rich, and hopefully he’ll throw some money my way for everything you’ve just read.
Is there a moment from your childhood that stands out as a “Holy crap! Sports are awesome” moment, a moment that hooked you?
There really isn’t one, alas. I grew up with a family that was indifferent to sports. I’m really the only one in my family who likes them, so I had to discover my fandom on my own. I think I got into it mainly so I could fit in at school, which sounds so pathetic but it’s true. Not that the love didn’t become genuine.
At the end of the day, sports are just sports. We say they’re supposed to be a diversion, but for a lot of us, they’re more than that—even if you’re not covering sports for a living. Do you agree?
Of course. I hate it when announcers tell me “it’s just a game”. No. It’s a billion-dollar industry. It matters. It gives you real memories and emotions and that’s as important as anything else.
With the Internet cutting down barriers, sportswriting has become so much more than just game recaps, trade roundups, rumors, and quotes. There’s just so much more creative, insightful, entertaining, and important stuff being produced each day. What do you think?
Kind of. I mean, there’s a lot more crap isn’t there? Like the shit I write. No one provides less useful information in a post than me. Media companies, the companies that have the kind of capital to send reporters out to find original stories, are less and less willing to do that now because there’s no profit margin in it. You can’t spend $5,000 on one post that’ll get 200,000 hits. And so there’s a lot of shit now from ESPN and the like that apes blogging (poorly) when we already have enough of that.
How do you think your writing and your, um, unique style speaks to that? You’re writing about sports in a way that would’ve made peoples’ heads explode 15 years ago—and probably still does—but it’s still definitely sportswriting. It’s some of the most entertaining sportswriting there is.
I just think I tend to appeal to the worst instincts of being a fan. That’s the fun of being a fan. You get to be hateful and mean and it really doesn’t matter. It’s a safer kind of hate than real hate. It’s real but much easier to compartmentalize, unless you go to Alabama or something.
As a man, what have sports meant to you?
They mean a paycheck, man. Baby needs shoes.
Why do you think sports are such an important part of life for so many men?
Because they’re fun. Everyone needs something to look forward to, and sports are this constantly scheduled thing that give you a milestone to aim at.
And last, is there one specific moment in your life that really signifies what sports are really all about for you?
Can I say Mike Vick giving that chick herpes? That.