Whether you know it or not, the sports blog genre has reinvented the way sports news is presented and distributed by main media. In case you’re unaware of some of the most influential folks who continue to advance that process, here they are:
(Murderer’s Row Minus Stirrup Socks)
Rick Chandler, Will Leitch (buy his new book) and Jamie Mottram: Established the genre as a paying profession.
Mike Florio: With a superhuman work ethic has gone from obscurity to the NFL’s most influential media member. And completely on his own terms.
Greg Wyshynski: Does the impossible: Makes me care about hockey.
Spencer Hall: If Pete Maravich was a sports blogger.
Matt Hinton: Funny, insightful, responsible.
Tommy Craggs: Literary bent too often missing in new media.
Jason McIntyre: Captures the pulse of the fan.
Kevin Kaduk: Serious journo who made seamless transition to proficient and entertaining baseball blogger.
Paul Lukas: Athletic Aesthetics? Yep, I’m there every day. Hidden gem.
Geoff Shackelford: Flagship indie golf blogger. Also see Steve Elling and Alan Shipnuck and Ryan Ballengee.
Henry Abbott: NBA fan? An absolute must-visit every day. The best.
Dan Steinberg: First and still best sports blog on old media (WaPo) site. Pioneer.
Richard Deitsch: Flagship online media blogger.
Jay Christensen: If you’re a college football fan and you’re not visiting him daily, wakeup!
Over the years I hired a lot of people to write for SbB. My process of hiring bloggers was a lot like those massive cattle call tryout camps MLB teams do once a year at the local high school. All that matters is radar gun and stopwatch.
Same thing when I was plowing through thousands (literally) of Craigslisted resumes for SbB writer hires. In 2-3 grafs you can see if a person either has an ability for it (think live 90 mph+ arm) or not.
There’s probably a good chance you, sadly, haven’t heard of all of the aforementioned bloggers. That’s not their fault, they have a skill that every sports fan would appreciate. Unfortunately, many of the main sports media sites somehow still embargo their brand of relevant sports entertainment.
A great example of the damming of the sports blog genre is the situation at Yahoo.
Jamie Mottram has assembled the finest collection of talent since the advent of sports blogs. If you go to Yahoo.com’s homepage, you’ll often see stories written by those Mottram hires directly linked. But if you go to the Yahoo Sports page, the link to the main Yahoo Sports Blog area is buried. (For a time there was no link to the main Yahoo Sports Blog area on the Yahoo Sports main page.)
Mottram also created AOL Fanhouse, which turned into a traffic monster thanks to the sports blog content Mottram hires created. Then in a nonsensical string of events, AOL allowed Mottram to go to Yahoo while rebranding its Fanhouse property into its main sports site.
Why on earth would you allow the guy who created the property you’re now showcasing to leave?
The answer to that question is the new Fanhouse, which is now staffed by a collection of old media and newspaper hires. The site now in no way resembles the cutting edge content that Mottram has since recreated at Yahoo Sports Blogs.
Nothing against the print folks who landed at Fanhouse, but if I want content with an old media sensibility, I’ll visit ESPN.
It is nice to see that Yahoo corporate though isn’t making the same mistake AOL did in letting Mottram go. He’s now overseeing all of the Yahoo blog genres thanks to the success of his sports blog venture with the company.
But again, if Mottram did a good enough job with Yahoo Sports Blogs to get a major promotion within the company, why is its home page almost impossible to find on the front page of Yahoo Sports?
Sports blog content from the writers I mentioned above reminds me a lot of the story of Apple. Steve Jobs has never consulted customers on what he thought they might want. He creates awe-inspiring pieces of personal technology that people don’t even know they want.
That describes the best of the sports blogs. So many people would absolutely love the content if they only knew it existed.