Good sports writers in Britain have traditionally been reluctant to write for tabloid newspapers. Three years ago Brian Glanville, a long-standing admirer of American and Continental European quality sports journalism for the masses, took his soccer column from the broadsheet Sunday Times to the tabloid Peopleby Brian Glanville / October 20, 1995 / Leave a comment
Published in October 1995 issue of Prospect Magazine
British sports journalism is still looking for an idiom; still waiting for its Red Smith, its Damon Runyon, its AJ Liebling, let alone its Ring Lardner; still waiting for the columnist who can be read by intellectuals without shame and by working men without labour. Meanwhile it is afflicted by dichotomy: a split between mandarin indulgence and stylised stridency, this in itself a valid reflection of the class structure.”
I wrote those words almost 30 years ago in an article called “Looking For An Idiom” for Encounter magazine. The piece was an attempt to analyse the dichotomy in British sports journalism between the quality and the tabloid press. It described the obstacles faced by writers on both types of newspaper. The tabloid journalist was forced into stylised self-betrayal. He was condemned to clich? and jargon, and could not express himself freely. Still, at least covering mass sports ensured that he reached the masses who followed them. By contrast, the quality journalist was free to write largely as he pleased, though unable to reach a wide audience.