Expanding on Raf's great post on this subject, sportwriters are by and large idiots - this is certainly not new news. At least three or four years ago we passed the tipping point at which intelligent fans who wanted news, analysis, informed opinions and a deeper understanding of the teams and sports they care about were better off coming to independent blogs than following the local columnist. Good bloggers have a passion that has largely been bled/beaten out of sportswriters. Bloggers also tend to have more raw intelligence, a wider perspective, a grounding in subjects from statistical analysis to philosophy, and oftentimes are flat-out better WRITERS to boot. (More after the jump - this is my first FanPost so sorry if I bonk this in some way).
The relative merits of bloggers vs. sportswriters can make for a lengthy (and fairly one-sided, imo) discussion, but my point here is that the things that most sportswriters have that most bloggers don't are access to athletes/owners/teams and a truly large mainstream following. I generally attach zero merit to any creed of 'journalism' that makes its way into sportswriting discussions. Sports are ENTERTAINMENT. We love our teams and are passionate about them, but this is all a form of entertainment. The reason we hold the concept of journalism in high esteem when compared to other forms of writing is that journalism can and should shape and protect society. Journalists are the ones who are often our first and only warning system that the politicians are stealing our tax dollars, that the corporation is dumping toxic waste in our creek, or that human rights are being trampled at home or abroad. Sports is about whether or not a guy made it on third and two, and sportswriting is generally about whether or not he made it, why he has the heart of a champion or a coward depending on whether he made it and, rarely, some half-decent analysis of WHY he made it or didn't make it based on what was happening in the play. This ain't the stuff that's going to determing whether the Republic stands or falls.
There have, of course, been exceptions. A lot of times these exceptions have occurred when sports has an intersection with society and larger societal issues. Individual achievement in the face of tremendous odds, racial interaction and justice (think Jackie Robinson), and political statement (think Muhammad Ali) are terrific examples, and society has been positively impacted as people reflected on the people and lessons involved - often through lenses crafted by sportswriters.
Well, another one of these issues is drugs and PEDs. Every blogger on the Internet can raise his or her voice in violent opposition to the presence of PEDs in sports and in condemnation of those caught using them. Those voices, though, still won't have the impact on mainstream consciousness that sportswriters are able to effect, especially in situations where they join their voices in the creation of highly publicized awards. The DROY revote was an opportunity to use this still highly visible pulpit to send a message that has actual societal impact. Not because someone 'cheated' and possibly impacted the outcome of some of our Sunday entertainment spectacles. Not because they had the meager power to punish or reward an individual by giving or withholding an award whose merit is determined by slobs who, if presented with 100 of Brian Cushing's plays on tape, would fail spectacularly at identifying his gap responsibility or defensive assignments. But because in thousands of high school and college locker rooms, today and in the future, millions of young athletes will face the choice of whether to risk their health to improve their performance with PEDs. They may make this decision in an atmosphere where the use of these drugs is roundly and soundly condemned and those caught using them suffer swift and severe punishment. Or, they may make this decision in an atmosphere where PED usage is given lip-service condemnation accompanied by a nod and a wink, and users don't suffer real consequences - at least not until years later when the lights have faded and their battles with everything from organ damage to increased suicide risk are private ones.
The AP writers had a chance to give the first scenario at least a little nudge towards becoming the norm. Instead, they made a stand that favors the second one.
Sportswriters are, by and large, idiots.