In one corner stands CNBC's Darren Rovell. This sports business reporter hasn't just emerged as the top source in his field, but has also emerged as the self-appointed czar of all things Twitter. He even celebrated passing the 100,000 followers plateau with a list of 100 Twitter rules. Surely the modern day equivalent to Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Since then though, Rovell has found another life as the Lex Luthor of Twitter. He has been caught in battles with everyone from political reporters to late show writers to sportswriters and seemingly anyone in-between because of his unapologetic Twitter sovereignty.
In the other corner stands Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch. Himself a veteran of the Twitter wars with his ongoing conflict with ESPN PR making the Hundred Years War look like a small disagreement over tea. Deitsch boasts just 35,000 followers, but has the utmost respect of the industry. This sportswriter combines his robust media reputation with a sharp sense of humor and biting critiques while also going outside sports to provide relevant, interesting information.
But to know the significance of these two gladiators stepping inside the Twitter squared circle is to know their history. At Blogs With Balls 4 in New York City, Deitsch and Rovell shared the first ever award for "Best Sports Tweeter." The two men have traded barbs on Twitter for quite some time in a back and forth fight for ultimate sporting Twitter supremacy. (To make it clear from the start, we're fans of the work of both Deitsch and Rovell as both have their qualities that make it worth your time to follow.)
However, Deitsch and Rovell had never engaged in a public Twitter debate. Rovell's famous (or infamous) policy of not replying to anyone so as to "clog timelines" came under heavy fire as his DM/Unfollow deathblow became the stuff of mythical Twitter legend. Instead of replying and having a conversation with combatants, Rovell took the tact of sending a private direct message and then unfollowing the person. Underhanded tactics in the eyes of many. (***Update: After speaking with Rovell today, he claims the much talked about DM/Unfollow double hammer was a misunderstanding and he had unfollowed those individuals well before the DMs.) This week, Rovell changed this policy after another one of his famous (or infamous) Twitter polls revealed that his followers wanted to see his replies play out in public.
It was only a matter of time before these mega Twitter powers exploded, which they did Wednesday night. It started over a simple tweet about tennis. But make no mistake, this was not about tennis. This was about two Twitter titans, finally going head to head for the world to witness. Rovell vs Deitsch. Deitsch vs Rovell. Here's how it played out...
(And yes, I'm well aware that this overly dramatic, completely unnecessary, and drawn out description of a Twitter fracas like it's a World Championship fight is totally ridiculous and not newsworthy in any way... but it sure is fun.)