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The LA Times Reporter Who Wrote That Garbage LSU 'Dirty Debutantes' Hatchet Job Admits He 'Failed Miserably'

Greg Fiume. Getty Images.

Last night's Elite 8 rematch of last year's NCAA championship final between LSU and Iowa was one of those times when sports goes beyond just a game and becomes a true sporting event. A moment. One where you don't have to pretend to follow the sport day in and day out to tune in because you understand what the stakes are going into it. Like a World Cup match between two rival countries with a history against one another. You don't even have to like soccer to relate to how huge it is. 

I admit I'm the most casual fan of the NCAA women's tournament. My appreciation for women's sports tends to be limited to Figure Skating, Beach Volleyball, MMA and Jennifer Tilley's poker:

But you can be damn sure I watched all of this one, because it had it all. Supremely talented athletes who long ago became household names. High-powered offenses with lightning-speed fast breaks. Bad blood. Trash talk. Old grudges. Scores to settle. Vengeance to be had. And it delivered on all counts. (Except for the gracious displays of sportsmanship at the end; you can't have everything, I suppose.) I haven't seen the TV ratings yet, but I won't be surprised if they topped last year's numbers, which averaged 9.9 million and at the game's peak hit 12.6 million. 

So nothing could ruin a night of celebrating the best the sport has to offer. Oh, right. This is 2024. Where literally nothing is such a pure good that it can't be spoiled by somebody. When virtually any good time we're all having is capable of being ruined by someone coming along to commit party fouls all over the place. And nothing can be enjoyed without someone trying to wreck it with their own  sociopolitical agenda.

In the case of LSU-Iowa, the game was played in the wake of LSU-UCLA, a game which the LA Times saw as an opportunity to publish a weirdo, derogatory hit piece directed at the Tigers. Who in turn were in no mood to play nice about it:

Which brought public pressure upon the Times, and forced them to edit it:

Well it's been a few days. And as the 2023 Championship rematch was unfolding, the author of the objectively awful article decided to come clean and admit the painfull obvious: His column was shit:

Source - The Los Angeles Times writer responsible for the weekend column on LSU has issued an apology on Monday for the universally criticized piece. 

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey tore into Ben Bolch for the article that described the Sweet 16 game between UCLA and LSU as a “reckoning” between good and evil and took issue with his characterizations such as  “dirty debutantes” and comparing the game between the Tigers and Bruins as “Louisiana hot sauce” and “milk and cookies.” 

Mulkey referred to the piece as “sexist.” …

“Words matter. As a journalist, no one should know this more than me. Yet, I have failed miserably in my choice of words,” Bolch wrote in an apology posted online. 

“In my column previewing the LSU-UCLA women’s basketball game, I tried to be clever in my phrasing about one team’s attitude, using alliteration while not understanding the deeply offensive connotations or associations. I also used metaphors that were not appropriate. Our society has had to deal with so many layers of misogyny, racism, and negativity that I can now see why the words I used were wrong. It was not my intent to be hurtful, but I now understand that I terribly missed the mark.”

The Los Angeles Times removed the offensive language over the weekend and said in a statement that “it did not meet Times editorial standards.” 

In the words of the great Vincent Vega, "Jules, did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits that he's wrong that he is immediately forgiven for all wrongdoings?" And the fact he said it while Jules was picking pieces of Marvin's brains off the back seat of a vintage convertible sedan didn't diminish the point he was making. 

I don't know this Ben Bolch guy. I have no reason to defend him. He doesn't send me a card on my birthday or bring me soup when I'm sick. I've never heard of him before now. But his original piece doesn't read like it's written by someone with a dark heart and hatred in his soul. It reads like it was written by someone trying to be funny who is himself not naturally funny. By a Journo who's worked his way up to the LA Times, working the Bruins basketball beat, climbing all the way up to the middle, and bored out of his mind by filing game reports in the format they drilled into his head in college. Final score. Top scorer. Quote from the coach. Dive into the details. Who. What. Where. How. Wrap it up with what it all means and who's next on the schedule. Get ready to do it all over for the next game. Try not to succumb to existential despair at the meaningless of it all and face another day. 

That original article was what you get any time a serious professional tries to be funny. The awkward banter when a local news anchor tries to yuk it up with the sports guy to prove he's cool. A career politician reading a joke off a teleprompter. The bride's dad trying to make a funny in his wedding toast. Invariably, it doesn't go well. It's especially common when Journos try to establish their cred by being … edgy. It's almost lost to history now, but there was a time when Bill Simmons absolutely and permanently changed the sportswriting game. Before him, "humor" in sports was limited pretty much to Rick Reilly on the back page of SI cracking wise with zingers like "I'd sooner floss crocodiles than go skydiving." And a million other oddly specific dental jokes. Then Simmons came along to do 5,000 word columns about Greg Oden's dick pic, and the job became harder for people with no sense of humor. 

I mean, "Dirty Debutantes" is a decent line if you're trying to reference some '90s VHS series with Jenna Jameson's name above the title. Shoehorning it into a column about LSU basketball is the kind of thing you type, read back to yourself, and then rephrase it. Not because it's "sexist" as much as it's forced. It makes you sound like a Try Hard. It's also clumsy. And simply doesn't work as an analogy. Angel Reese had 20 rebounds and three blocks in a losing effort last night. Van Lith had to chase Caitlin Clark all around the perimeter for four quarters. They're the furthest thing from some society chick crying at her Coming Out party because dad didn't buy her the right car and mom's boyfriend got drunk and hit on her friend from boarding school. 

So we can forgive Bolch because he's doing the noble thing and taking an L. What is harder to do is forgive Journos who desperately try to work Barstool's side of the street because, almost without exception, it ends up being pure trash like this "milk and cookies vs Lousiana hot sauce" dreck. Skate your lane, hacks. And leave the entertainment to the professionals.