By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Blogging Issues Plague Every Good Sports Internet Site
By the same token, boutique sites like BASN, are finding it increasingly difficult to be thought of as mainstream because it is such a niche product. That poses a problem for sites like this one when it comes to credentials because sports entities like the NFL, NBA and NCAA tend to frown upon them as nothing more than “mom and pop” sites looking for freebies.
What has set BASN a part from the rest of the boutique sites is the fact that it has aligned itself with a national organization that uses its stories and disseminates them to its members. This in itself makes this site as viable and credible as the big boys.
But now comes along an Internet prospect that is making it difficult for everyone to do their jobs and it really is trying to help everyone else. Blogging is the next “news” craze and once again the major sports entities are weighing the validity of such an entrant in a world where the rules are already vague for the Internet sports websites.
In years past, many sports website were started up as either fan based sites or as components to what various news organizations were producing. At the time when I started, I had either helped become a co-founder of a website (spurshoops.com), a senior writer for a news website (www.spurszone.com during the first Spurs championship), a contributing writer for another one and now a senior contributing writer/assistant editor for BASN.
So in my time frame I have seen or heard just about every conceivable way for a site to be constructed, developed and/or launched. For me, I’m fortunate that each site I have been involved in grew and became credible in the eyes of the sports entities I was dealing with. Yet, that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard the hush tones that come from media coordinators of both college and professional sports. They are wary of many sites because for the most part many of them just want to get in free to watch the games from the “best seats in the house”.
The weeding out process is long and arduous and sometimes a blanket policy is given that thwarts everyone both good and bad sites alike. That same wariness that these entities may still have with internet sports sites wanting credentials are having the same feeling on issuing credentials to “bloggers”; those who blog about events as they are there in person. The funny thing is that many Internet sites and sports journalists who are a part of them feel the same way as the entities that may issue credentials.
If this sounds confusing, join the club. There really isn’t a true definition of a blogger or blogging. You really cannot go up on a job search engine and enter “blogger” and a list of jobs just pops up. In the journalism world the term is so new that there really hasn’t been set any standards as to what can be written courtside by a blogger and what can’t. In most cases there isn’t even a definition of what the qualifications are for being a blogger.
One of the best-known cases now of this issue is from the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Brian Bennett. If you do not know of this case, Bennett was a reporter assigned to cover the NCAA’s Super Regional in Louisville, Ky. What Bennett did was actually “blog” during the event. Now according to the NCAA he was literally giving a play-by-play description of a baseball game and that is indeed against the media policy that the NCAA has.
Yet one has to ask the question, what if Bennett simply gave a “live” op/ed about the event-taking place? Could that also violate the NCAA’s policy? It is this very issue that seems to be a foundation of where organizations like the NCAA, NBA, NFLE and MLB stand on. They simply do not know how to categorize even a professional journalist who is simply “blogging” an event.
This issue is vitally important to sports fans because the world of sports reporting is changing almost on a daily basis. Several years ago I was at various sporting events in which I would give my opinion of how the game was going live from the arena. This was before blogging was craze. What I was doing was actually logging into the site that I was writing game stories for and conversing with the fans of whatever teams were playing against each other.
During these chats I made it a strict rule to not give any play-by-play of the event and that I would only stick to giving my opinion on the game at hand. It wasn’t an easy task and for several years it was a success. So I have to wonder myself as to how Bennett figured into giving a play-by-play of a sporting event wouldn’t violate any media policy the NCAA had in place. What I have come to realize is that maybe his employer didn’t know how to handle it because they really didn’t have such a policy in place.
Many media outlets, especially newspapers, allow the columnists to be the bloggers and that is not a bad idea. Columnists are opinion writers and they are less susceptible to giving minute-by-minute accounts of what is going on. Over the years you can see such sidebar sections on a paper’s website and that information is exclusively found on that site; you cannot find it in printed form. The policies that need to be in place to assure sports entities aren’t in place because not everyone wants to confine himself or herself to such a constriction.
That is the very reason why blogging is a detriment to many legitimate sports websites. Gaining credibility in the sports world as a news source means that the very sport or sports you are covering must feel comfortable with an Internet property doing the coverage. To say you want to be like the Associated Press won’t be enough to get you into a team’s door as being credentialed. Even if that team has its own website, trying to get in would be difficult.
For the main sports sites and the boutique sites like BASN, it took months and years to forge relationships with the sports leagues. Those interested in blogging have to do the same as these sites did years ago and they have to be willing to adhere to a set of guidelines that may seem very confining but yet are in place to protect the sport and the product; not just the name.
Bennett’s situation and that of the Courier-Journal brings up some very unique issues that the sports media world is now dealing with right now. How do you legitimize a sports website and who can be a blogger is just a few of the issues that will probably be talked about at various conventions over the summer. Yet as a sports fan you need to be aware of such issues because the caveat emptor phrase is very much in effect when it comes to sports journalism.
In today ‘s world it is so easy to say you want to be a news reporter when in essence many want to try and make their own news. A reporter and a maker are two different things. In the sports realm, organizations and properties are dealing with this very issue on a daily basis and many worthy sites are being caught up in the backwash of what some ill-conceived and professional sites may have stirred up.
As a sports fan you deserve to have both biased and unbiased coverage of your favorite teams but you also deserve to have accurate information as well. Bloggers now have to figure out what they can or cannot do and all of that may be contingent upon how they are perceived both the media that they want to belong to and the sports teams, leagues or organizations that they want to cover.
THE SHAMENESS OF BAD COVERAGE IS JUST UNREAL
Okay, I have a question. Does anyone really give a rat’s tail about who won the 2007 Nathan’s Hot Dog contest? Evidently ESPN thought it was a worthwhile event to put on and there were enough sports talk shows on Thursday that covered it.
By the same token what is up with the WWE showing a three-hour special about Chris Benoit the day he killed himself and a few days after he murdered his family? If such events just make you sick, join the club.
I don’t know what NBC Universal was thinking but having the USA Network show that three hour piece of “trash” was just too much. Whatever respect the WWE should have had about the event was flushed immediately down the toilet when apparently Vince McMahon decided that such programming was appropriate.
Sorry, Vince but just like your XFL venture, you flopped. “He Hate Me” isn’t coming out to save you and the only thing that would have been less tasteful is for you or your company to trot out Benoit’s dead corpse and hold the funeral in the squared circle. It was utterly tasteless, callous and very typical of a company that just doesn’t get the difference between real life and make believe.
As for the hot dog eating contest, this just goes to show how low our society is on finding entertainment. We would have been better served probably if we saw two women eat bananas or something. At least the ratings may have gone up.
Either case, and like the Benoit tribute, seeing two grown men eat as many hot dogs as possible isn’t considered a sport. Not every contest is a sports contest people no matter who is stupid enough to “sponsor” such an event. Eating is not a sport!!!!
Now with that said, let’s find something more entertaining to call a sporting event. Anyone got an old copy of the Ali-Frasier or maybe when Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes wrestled?