We have very few requirements when reading our favorite sports columnists. One is that the article should be in English. Another is that there be no popup ads for the latest Rob Schneider comedy film (we're adamant about that one). Lastly, we must be able to stay awake throughout the entire column. Not sharp and focused, mind you — just conscious, with the absence of our heading smacking painfully against the surface of our desk. We don't think it's asking a lot. But sadly, some writers are not hitting the mark on all three. Scott Fowler is one of these writers. More after the vital statistics:
Name: Scott Fowler.
Writes For: Charlotte Observer.
Former Employers: Louisville Courier-Journal, Miami Herald.
Born: Spartanburg, S.C.
Attended: University of North Carolina (Tar Heels).
Most Often Heard On: ESPN "Outside The Lines," ESPN radio.
Nicknames: Opie; The Bland Inquisitor.
Books: North Carolina Tar Heels, Where Have You Gone?; Year of the Cat; Tales From the Carolina Panthers Sideline.
Most Resembles: Ken Berry.
Most Telling Quote By A Deadspin Commenter: "Fowler may be the blandest, most offensively inoffensive columnist working in a big-league town."
We've delved deeply into the Fowler archives and have actually found some serviceable writing and a few downright interesting pieces. But they all seem to have come before he became a columnist for the Observer. Now, the M.O. seems to be to phone in a few columns a week while he's working on his next book. But perhaps we're not being fair. Maybe there's some real reporting going on here — some actual hard-nosed opinion making. Perhaps there are some startling revelations, such as:
• You know the Duke and UNC men's basketball teams? Apparently there's some sort of big rivalry.
• LeBron James, as it turns out, is a very good player.
• Ha! Those refs sure blew it when they called Tom Penders for a technical. He had fainted!
• The Panthers may have lost the game, but they remain proud.
Our commenter went on to say: "In some ways, that makes him the perfect voice of banking-centric Charlotte, a town full of buttoned-down money drones whose idea of dressing down is khakis, a belt and a golf shirt. But it's absolute murder for those of us who pick up the local sports section in search of some kind of fresh take on the scene."
So yeah, if you see a copy of the Observer lying around Floyd's Barber Shop, avoid sports at all costs. Unless you need the rest.
Scott Folwer Archive [Charlotte.com]