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Deadspin's Will Leitch: Which Sports Death Would Affect Us Like MJ's?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:10 PM, under , ,

The Deadspin headline is enticing. Will Leitch draws readers in with a simple question. Which sports death would affect us like Michael Jackson's?

Leitch opens with

"I was as surprised by the reaction to Michael Jackson's death as I was the death itself, though I shouldn't have been. Is there anyone in sports whose death we'd react to in a similar way?"

My initial reaction is "Is Leitch kidding me?" I cannot think of a single athlete, save perhaps Tiger Woods, whose death would bring such a global reaction.

But then he goes further, explaining that he means the question in terms of how we frame our perspectives when talking about Jackson. That is the notion that all of his alleged past sins are gone and discussion focuses on his music.

The strangely moving aspect of Michael Jackson's death was how we so quickly dismissed the freakshow he'd become over the last 20 years and focused almost solely on the music, and just how ... great it really was. His death shouldn't have shocked us as much as it did; clearly, something was wrong with that guy. But it did what death is supposed to do: It gave us the needed perspective to hark back and reevaluate the artist, understand what it was we'd truly lost, give us something to all share as one.
Sure, death changes how we talk about people. Yet I cannot think of anyone who would get the global reaction that Jackson has.

So take a look at Leitch's list, and his reasoning, over on Deadspin. What do you think?

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