Tracking the best name in sportswriting

We‘re a pretty modest bunch, but it bears noting, on very infrequent occasion, that the subjects of our content sometimes read our content. When Jalen Rose, in response to a feature on him, tweeted us his approval, I included a copy of the tweet at the bottom of the post because it was relevant feedback and fit within the arc of the piece.

By contrast, some responses bear mentioning separately from the triggering content because, while substantively outside the arc of that content, they require a response, at minimum, in the form of an acknowledgment of receipt. (Sometimes, of course, they create their own conversation altogether.) Such was the case with a tweet we received Saturday morning. 

The Thursday before, I had briefly written about why I had yet to post a full review of The Classical by way of introducing a video of a Muhammad Ali interview that site had featured. In that lead in, I wrote:

[W]hile David Roth’s emergence as a primary voice on the site is not in any way unpleasant, the apparent vanishing of The Classical’s star editor-in-chief, Bethlehem Shoals, is at least mystifying.

Evidently alerted to this sentence, Shoals wanted me to know that:

I admit I had not checked Shoals’ Twitter biography before I posted that I found his “apparent vanishing” from The Classical to be “mystifying,” and when I read his tweet, I became worried that his bio disclosed a fact known to all internet people that he had quit the site to take a better-paying (or just, paying?) job with FoxSports.com and that I’d embarrassed myself on a rare occasion that a reader of such consequence had navigated our way. I quickly pulled up his Twitter page and immediately was relieved to see nothing of the kind:

He still worked at The Classical, I saw, and also, perhaps primarily, worked at http://www.wk.com, a site unfamiliar to me. Maybe that was his main engagement now, and The Classical had to take a back seat? It wasn’t clear, so I investigated further.

WK, it turns out, is an organization called Wieden+Kennedy. After probing that site for a bit, I determined that they are an advertising agency and, based on their identification of multiple offices across the globe, a pretty big one. I went to look for Shoals under the site’s “People” tab, but I couldn’t find him, even after figuring out that the listings were alphabetical by first name.

It was at this point that I revealed to myself that measure of embarrassment I’m due. Possessed of a chronic optimism others might say bleeds into naivete, I had been of the mind that Shoals’ was the best name in sportswriting, one of the best names ever. You couldn’t come up with a better one if you tried. Not immediately finding him on WK.com, I turned to Google and realized that was even more true than I initially thought, discovering that “Bethlehem Shoals” is a pen name, a concoction– albeit a genius one– of a man named Nathaniel Friedman. Everyone who knew about Shoals/Friedman probably already knew this, and now I do too.

I cycled back to WK.com, genuine data input in hand, expecting to solve the non-mystery of Shoals’ disappearance but instead found nothing more than a minimal placeholder of a profile. No clues. Not even a photograph. Discarding his throwaway comment about his current domicile and the one about holding questionable title to his own intellectual property, I had exhausted the information his Twitter profile contained, leaving only that two-sentence tweet: “My disappearance isn’t that mysterious. Read my Twitter bio.”

______________________________________

There is no real controversy here, and this all is the smallest of small time. We know, though, that when comparatively public figures make attempts to counter misinformation, anything but a clear and convincing statement is likely to lead to more inquiry, not less. Here, Shoals admitted that he has disappeared from The Classical, contesting only the degree to which that disappearance is mysterious, to use his word. As discussed, his Twitter bio isn’t particularly illuminating. He’s got another job? It also isn’t basketball season, and basketball is his specialty. Maybe he’s focusing on behind-the-scenes editing? Those are reasons I could have and did hypothesize on my own, though. What I continue to find mystifying, to use my word, about his unexplained disappearance, is the way it stands in contrast to the transparency that’s so much a part of The Classical’s refreshing approach.

We don’t rake very much muck here. Just trying to keep an eye on sportswriting’s leading edge.

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One thought on “Tracking the best name in sportswriting

  1. And just like that, we have an answer, straight from the horse’s mouth:

    Thus concludes this Internet Adventure. As you were.

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