Question & Answer: Deadspin

Andrew Simon

Instead of chasing a career in mainstream sports journalism, Will Leitch started a blog. Good choice. His site, the irreverent, now pulls in more than 300,000 hits daily, serving a regular dose of “Sports news without favor, access or discretion.” Leitch’s new book God Save the Fan, is a collection intimate moments in fandom, ranging from a cynical diary of 24 straight hours spent watching ESPN, to a sentimental account of watching the 2006 National League Championship Series with a group of Cardinals’ fans in a New York bar.

Q: What did you think of the ending to the Super Bowl?

A: I still feel like Eli Manning should have come out of the game talking like his balls dropped or something. I feel like he’s like a man now. It was disappointing to see he’s still a little bit of a yokel.

Q: What prompted you to write the book?

A: At Deadspin, I feel like I’m more of a facilitator than a columnist. My job is to introduce topics to people rather than take some strong stance on them. So the book is a little bit more fun. I get to be a little more personal.

Q: Why has Deadspin been able to cultivate such a big following?

A: I never really thought it was because of any of my brilliance or anything. I think there was a real calling for something like this, and I mostly just feel fortunate I got there first. So it wasn’t so much of a thing like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe it! This guy’s a genius! Let’s follow him!’ It seems so logical now that obviously people would be looking for a place where they could congregate and get the best sports news off the Web all in one place and a fun take on it.

Q: One topic the book and the Web site cover a lot is ESPN and its shortcomings. If you could change one thing about ESPN, what would it be?

A: One thing wouldn’t do it, it’d have to be the ethos of the whole place. Here’s what’s wrong with ESPN: You’re a sports fan, and I’m a sports fan – whether we like it or not, we watch ESPN. We’re not going anywhere. They’ve got us. There’s no real major competition. Either we watch ESPN or we don’t watch any sports at all. They’re a corporation and realize to grow, they have to start going after the more casual fan and start dumbing things down a little.

Q: Being featured in the February issue of Penthouse had to be a proud moment for you.

A: Well it was certainly a proud moment for my dad. He finally realized I don’t make my living by just sitting around and e-mailing all day (laughs). Actually that kind of is how I make my money. It was kind of an odd thing to have that happen. I was pretty surprised they put my name on the cover. That was not something you would hae expected coming out of that, because, you know, it’s Penthouse.