Bill Simmons’ always entertaining draft diary, now measured in roman numerals, went up this morning at Grantland. The approximately 4,700 word behemoth had jokes and running commentary of the draft in typical Simmons fashion, from a player’s WAG’s draft (Bradley Beal was the first pick) to cracking an Austin Rivers facial hair joke. Soon after it went up, a portion of those words were removed.
After the piece was published, some folks complained because Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has a speech impediment and publicly speaking in front of a group of people is a challenge for him. That portion above was removed from the piece without commentary, and without noting any of that.
A big part of Bill Simmons’ appeal is his “every fan” charm and the persona that he is “just one of the guys.” You could easily see that exchange happening. The reason the draft diary is such a notable Simmons staple is the banter with his friends of which “House” is one.
The issue is whether a change as large as a big swath of the piece that features multiple lines should just be removed after the fact, without any reference or editor’s note about the content that was removed. It won’t fully disappear on the internet. One of the great things about the internet, and writing on the internet is the speed at which information can be exchanged. Non-substantive corrections can be made quickly; no need for the magazine to be delivered a week later and see a typo in print. I’ve made changes when my commenters/readers have notified me, maybe it’s an incomplete sentence, or an extra letter in a name. Once, I accidentally hit a key stroke as I was publishing and removed a title of a post, so yeah.
The standard for that also depends on the venture. Grantland has eight people with editor listed in the title and publishes on a regular basis. It serves a large readership. They probably required a note from an editor if they were going to make a change as large as that.
The question is not whether it should be changed–it’s probably appropriate to remove the offending section even if Simmons was unaware of the speech impediment. The exchange itself was in line with the kind of banter we see from a Simmons’ draft column. The reference to Kidd-Gilchrist was unfortunate, but so long as not intentional, understandable. The question is whether that change is substantive enough that it merits being mentioned in the piece when it is removed. It probably did. Now, people going to Grantland who may not have realized that Kidd-Gilchrist had a speech impediment will still be unaware.
[UPDATE: In between the time that I originally read the edited piece this morning and this post ran, Grantland has added a footnote which acknowledges the edit and apologizes to MKG. As a result, I’m editing to acknowledge the change. I think inserting that footnote is a completely reasonable way of handling it].
[photo via Getty]