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Mr. Conlin, Mr. Smith. . .Mr. Smith, Mr. Conlin. . .

If you'll recall, I wrote a piece a week or so back about Philadelphia sports hack Bill Conlin saying that. . .well, in so many words, he's not a big fan of blogger types.

Well, apparently Conlin has an ally in the War on Blogs.  Gentlemen, let me introduce you to ESPN employee Screamin' A. Stephen A. Smith.

"And when you look at the internet business, what's dangerous about it is that people who are clearly unqualified get to disseminate their piece to the masses. I respect the journalism industry, and the fact of the matter is ...someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can. They are not trained. Not experts. More important are the level of ethics and integrity that comes along with the quote-unqoute profession hasn't been firmly established and entrenched in the minds of those who've been given that license.

"Therefore, there's a total disregard, a level of wrecklessness that ends up being a domino effect. And the people who suffer are the common viewers out there and, more importantly, those in the industry who haven't been fortunate to get a radio or television deal and only rely on the written word. And now they've been sabotaged. Not because of me. Or like me. But because of the industry or the world has allowed the average joe to resemble a professional without any credentials whatsoever."

Really?  Seriously?  Are you joking me here?

Now, while Smith isn't advocating the kind of bloggercide. . .is that a word?  Hell, it is now.  Let me start again.

While Smith isn't advocating the kind of bloggercide that Conlin was obviously pushing for, his words are pretty disturbing in their own right.  Let's start at the very beginning. . .a very good place to start.

Smith says that people who are "clearly unqualified" get to disseminate their piece to the masses, and that that's dangerous?  Why, exactly, would anybody see this as dangerous?  The free exchange of information is what the 21st Century is all about here, Stephen.  What "qualifications" do I need, exactly?  Am I required to have a college degree or something like that before I'm allowed to "disseminate my piece to the masses?"

Now, don't get me wrong. . .I realize that the guys that write for the Star-Tribune and the Pioneer Press in the Twin Cities are "professionals," and have all sorts of formal training in the field of journalism.  I, on the other hand, do not.  What I do have is a firm grasp of the English language (or, at least, I'd like to believe that's the case), a burning desire to talk about my favorite sports team, and a forum to express my opinions and analysis (such as it is) of that team.  Honestly, that sounds like all the qualification I should need.

However, in the end, "qualification" really has nothing to do with the message being conveyed.  If someone, be they a Viking fan or otherwise, comes to this site and draws the conclusion that I don't have any idea what the hell I'm talking about, they can go away and not come back.  That's their choice.  They don't have to "suffer" through my stuff to get to something else.  It's a lot like when I'm driving in my car and have my XM Radio tuned to ESPN Radio.  I don't have to "suffer" through the Stephen A. Smith show from 2 to 3 PM Central Time to get to something that doesn't suck.  I can flip the radio to a different station until I see 3 PM on my watch or on the car stereo, and turn it back to ESPN Radio to get to something good.

Amazing how that works, isn't it?

And honestly, how much qualification does it take to sit in a studio in Bristol, CT and yell "THE NEW YORK KNICKS ARE TERRIBLE!!" for an hour?  Seriously, have you ever listened to this guy?  Take Jim Rome, subtract all the charisma, deduct 90% of the insight, double the volume. . .and you have Stephen A. Smith.  Bear in mind, I say this never having really ever been a Jim Rome "fan," but I'd much rather listen to Rome than this schmoe.

Smith then goes on to talk about the levels of "ethics and integrity" that we as bloggers have.  Really, this is fairly insulting.  Didn't ESPN, with all their sources and all their ethics and all their integrity run with a story about a college football coach that they swore up and down was going to change jobs just this past weekend?  And didn't that coach call a press conference specifically to pimp-slap ESPN and all their sources and all their ethics and all their integrity while declaring to the world that he wasn't leaving his current job?

See, we in the blogging community don't have this problem.  Ordinarily, we don't have "sources" for this sort of thing.  We take the things that are being reported by people WITH sources, and comment on them.  What's wrong with that?  Hell, speculation and conjecture is what today's sports talk radio was BUILT on, for crying out loud!  The thing is, the speculation and conjecture is supposed to come from us, the unwashed masses, the non-"professionals," as it were.  Not from the people that are allegedly "qualified" to give us our information.

Smith concludes by saying that his industry is "suffering" because it's allowing "the average joe to resemble a professional with no credentials whatsoever."

Wrong again, Stephen A.

Take a look around, if you will.  According to our statistics, between the numerous blogs on the SBNation network, we average between 145,000 and 150,000 visits EVERY SINGLE DAY.  This site is a very small percentage of that number (usually around 500-600 a day, with some days where we do a lot more).  In the 17 months I've been running this site on the network, over 110,000 hits have been registered.  Nobody's forcing anyone to come to this site to read what I have to say, and I'd really like to think that nobody's "suffering" as a result of coming here.

(Except for Packer, Bear, and Lions fans.  Their suffering means very little to me.  But I digress.)

The sports blogosphere isn't going away, Stephen.  It's going to keep expanding.  Do you want to feel less threatened by "average joes" like myself and the rest of SBNation?

Try sucking less.  And for the love of God, stop yelling all the damn time.