What’s The Deal With Blogs?

Kurt —  February 17, 2008

Sparked by emailed questions and conversations with people in the business of NBA information, I’m using the All-Star Break to look at some bigger picture questions about NBA blogging. Today the post talks about the growth of NBA blogs and why people are reading them — and a lot more of you are reading them. Tomorrow, the topic will be credibility of blogs and how NBA teams are dealing with them.

I’m amused now when I read a coach or media columnist (or politician, for that matter) say “the bloggers are doing X.” Because, from where I sit, that is as broad a statement as saying “all Californians are doing X” or “all white males” or whatever. With NBA blogs, the community has become too large and too diverse to pigeonhole

There has been an explosion in NBA blogs in the last few years — part of the overall explosion in blogging on the Web. But why so many NBA blogs in particular (on the heels of the same trend in baseball)? LA Times Lakers blogger and SportsHubLA founder Brian Kamenetzky points that the nature of the NBA fans has helped fuel that:

First, the NBA demographic tends, I think, to skew a little younger, with an audience that’s more into using new technology and new forms of communication to talk about sports and basketball in particular. Obviously, too, the popularity of the league is incredibly high right now, too, which helps.

Another point that Sactown Royalty (and AOL Fanhouse) author Tom Ziller points makes is that several NBA blogs and bloggers are now getting paychecks from the “mainstream media” — Henry Abbot’s True Hoop, which started as an independent blog and is part of ESPN, leads that way — and that has helped bring attention and key links to NBA blogs.

But that is a very diverse group of bloggers that readers are finding in those links. All bloggers really have in common is software Ziller adds:

‘Blog’ has become a method of publication more than a style. Certainly, something like Wizznutz is different than D.C. Sports Bog or Bullets Forever or Gilbertology. All the same subject, all the same software (at core). But the styles define the purpose, with is certainly varied.

And that plays into what a lot of you told me when last week I asked my readers where they get their NBA news and why.

The first thing that struck me is just how long gone the days of people having one or two sources of information for basketball are. Virtually everyone gets information both from the analysts on televised games and key NBA sites (Yahoo, ESPN, or local papers) and with alternative sites, like blogs. Brian P. summed it up well:

I basically hit anything everything up to soak up what people are thinking and I like to come here and watch people discuss those same ideas. In the end I make my own opinions with the multiple insights I get in addition to my own and I am content.

People also were drawn to the community of sites, a place where they can “converse” and learn from other fans. The size and tones of the communities on the various Lakers sites varies considerably, and that provides options for people of different tastes

Finally, there seems to be a craving for things less seen in mainstream media. For perspectives not considered “tinged with the negatives that come with the big sites,” to quote Kamenetzky. Certainly, these were questions asked of readers of this site, where people come because they like/are curious about new hoops statistics and a more Xs and Os breakdown, so the answers to the questions are going to be a bit skewed. But I think there is a reason that Kevin at Clipper Blog and this blog have had some success — for all the coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers (and Clippers) there is precious little hard on the court analysis. There’s plenty of national and local media who seem to love the soap opera of the LA teams, but few breakdowns of plays and players.

So fans come here. Or read Dancing Barry and ask questions at Lakersground. Or go to the guys at Lakers Nation (formerly Get Garnett). Or read Kelly Dwyer (somebody give the man a full time gig!). Or search out what David Thorpe says at ESPN.

I think that blogs are finding a lot of niches that existing media find hard to fill or keep up with. Henry Abbot’s True Hoop has success in part because he loves the game but doesn’t gloss over the warts (to borrow his phrasing). Traditional coverage tends to take a magnifying glass to the warts, skewing toward sensationalism first. Some blogs do that too, certainly.

But you can’t pigeonhole all blogs that way.

Kurt

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25 responses to What’s The Deal With Blogs?

  1. Great post, Kurt. You touch on many great points. I think that people who try to pigeon hole blogs or bloggers are people who either don’t read them or are just staunch supporters of mainstream media. Anyone who reads the different blogs out there knows that there is a ton of variety and perspective that varies from site to site, which I think is the perfect reflection of average fans. Many fans don’t agree and have arguments all the time about teams/players/sports….hell, right here on this site, we have debates all the time about anything and everything Lakers: hello Lamar Odom. But overall, as traditional media has become more corporate, and thus more about the bottom line, blogs provide insight from real people for real people, and I think, that is what we all appreciate. Thanks for your great work, your site is constantly raising the bar. We do notice.

  2. hey Kurt, don’t you think with all the attention on the “new look Lakers” and sudden championship contenders that thy are, then the “pinkie” injury and subsequent request from the team to let KB skip the All Star Game….that the start of today’s game, and how many minutes Byron plays him, are going to make this one of the highest rated all star games?
    I usually don’t watch the game, prefer the real games, but I would like to watch the lead up to and the start just to have a laugh at all the drama that’s going to happen.
    can you tell us what time the actual game starts, and what channel?
    (it seems to me that the damn ASG has been on for 3 straight days, rediculous)
    thanks.

  3. desus32,
    I think you hit on a really key point. The corporate mainstream media is, almost exclusively bottom line – period. If it sells, put it out there; if it doesn’t bury it.

    This is for all media, not just sports. Not only do we like to read things with our own slant on them, but we often like to read the intelligent opposition and all points in between. The mainstream media can no longer answer this craving; therefore, we turn to other outlets. The internet and blogs came along just in time to pick up on this. When ESPN limits its output to only what sells it too will become irrelevant.

    The need for niche information is too great in an educated and, hopefully, open society. We need something besides stuff geared for 60% acceptance.

  4. To me, a blog is basically an online article where the author allows others to carry on the discussion started by the post and actually joins it to take it further.

    So some ‘blogs’ that don’t have the author participating in the comments, aren’t true blogs, but merely blog-like articles.

    A successful blog, is one where the discussion leads to more insight that the author, with his expertise, can explore further and thus creates a cycle. Post- comment – new post. This makes readers feel appreciated and they develop loyalty. Casual mention of one or two commentors in a new post will work wonders, although simply taking their opinions into account will suffice.

    At any rate, I enjoy having people with more knowledge take the time and share it, and spend time answering questions brought up. It’s almost like online-mentoring, and I find the next game I watch, I get to appreciate it more that I know what else to look for.

    Stuff that won’t happen in game recaps that can’t get into detailed breakdowns.

  5. 2. Not sure it’s Kobe so much as a general increased excitement about the league this year — Chris Paul, Dwight last night, KG in Boston, etc.

    3. Great point about the bottom line nature of the mainstream media. It needs to unite a large audience and so you get guys trying to be the loudest person in the room or argument posing as a debate of the issues. Or, focus on something most people can simply agree on. Nuance has be be dug out to be found.

  6. Kurt:

    I think the league is just more interesting than it has been in years. We finally have stars like Kobe, Lebron, Wade, KG, Dirk, Nash, and Chris Paul among the many amazing talents emerging into legendary status. It’s been a long time since the league had so much substantial talent. This year in particular is interesting because the entire landscape has changed because of all the blockbuster trades.

    The Lakers and Celtics are abig part of it as well. The emergence of the most popular franchises in the league has to be helping general interest in the NBA. In any case, it’s great to see such an amazing set of players all in the same generation and games have never been more interesting.

    btw… how did you like “No Country for Old Men”?

  7. 6., Laker Pauer, I’m just a wee bit hungover and can’t say anything intelligent at the moment, but I’ve been meaning to say, great name, sir.

  8. Well I think the mainstream media is under much more scrutiny than they were before the blogs appeared. We bloggers now have a voice. We are the jury in judging what these reporters report on daily and I think they know that. They cant get away with trashy reporting with out coming under a huge barrage on these blogs. Just ask Bucher and that other idiot from the NY Post. Im sure they just hate the Blogging community. I for one love that I can go to tons of other sources other than just reading the L.A. Times to get info on my team.
    Blogging is here to stay no doubt about that. People like you Kurt are much more readable than the Plaskes and Adandes out there. You as a Laker Fan are much more enjoyable to read than many others in the mainstream media.

  9. sorry to be a pain, but have you ever tried to find a start time of a game in the paper, (on line)? it’s not easy, in fact pretty frustrating…so I’ll ask again-

    can you tell us what time the actual game starts, and what channel?

  10. The blogging movement its been great for the NBA and the fans. Having several sites where to find not just news but analysis, coments, diferents points of view, getting to know what non-famous-experts think about a concrete topic and having a more close aproach to them is just amazing.

    This movement hasn’t arrived to spain yet and most blogs you can find about the NBA are like “Kyle Korver, The Answer and Baron Davis are the best” or “Pau Gasol, Calderon and Navarro deserves to be in the All NBA team” and copy pasting news from AP. That’s why i’ve started NBA Site.es.

    I’m lucky to be able to be arround american blogs but there’s a big lack of english knowledge here in Spain and blogging in Spanish is trying to aproach this model to them.

  11. chris- The game is 5:30 pst/ 8:30 est. It’s on TNT.

  12. I think blogs also have more leeway in terms of being PC, appropriate, etc. There is much more creative and provoking thought and analysis in blogs, in my opinion.

  13. thanks kwame a!

  14. 7. Thanks! It seemed to sum up the season so far for me. Let’s hope that a pinky injury doesn’t turn it into something else. I would be pretty upset if it kept us from making noise in the playoffs.

  15. Is there a cooler man than KG?

  16. WARNING: This is simply my own opinion.

    Blogging for me is therapy to my sick mind and insatiable need for an NBA fix. Its a natural high that brings me to cloud 9.

    Seriously.

    Kurt, blogging has indeed boomed the last couple of years and I agree with MacBSlick that its here to stay. It is where us fans develop the knowledge to draw more fans to the game. It gives us the chance to speak our minds without fear and say them as they come. As for me, its nice to be considered an NBA-dictionary here at our place.

  17. Man… I have to say that this is one of the worst all-star games I’ve ever watched. It’s a real disappointment after the fantastic slam dunk contest yesterday. I know it’s an exhibition game, but no one seems to have the competitive fire going on right now. It makes you appreciate Kobe even more.

  18. Sorry for the double post, but after the last half, I formally retract my last post. It was a pretty thrilling 2nd half.

  19. The dull first half goes to show the kind of presence the high flyers of past years (Kobe, T-Mac, Carter) and Shaq has on the All-Star game.

  20. I read blogs due to the insight others have that I don’t get when reading sports news. Plus, it makes me feel smarter when having discussions with my friends =]

    19-Yeah, that was a crappy all-star game. No Kobe, no T-Mac, no VC, and no Shaq-Fu made watching it feel vanilla. There was not as many highlights, and left me disappointed especially with the hype surrounding it. The bright spots from the West were Brandon Roy and CP3. I mean, “The Big Fundamental” blew a dunk! Seeing Kobe itching in the final minutes of the game made me realize how much of an impact he has on the game night in and night out, even though it’s only an exhibition.

  21. Kurt,

    Despite your emphasis on diversity in your writeup, it is a consistency of quality analyses among certain bloggers that I appreciate more and more. There is a core group of bloggers, like you, that really know a great deal about their local teams and are willing to share what they know honestly. In your case, you have managed to create a “blog of bloggers” (and ordinary guys like me) who seem to know almost everything that ever happens to or affects the Lakers within minutes (or at most hours) of when it happens–and what it means.

    Others in other cities may not be quite as adept at inspiring your volume of quality responses, but they know their teams backwards and forwards. The one thing that you all have in common is a sense of honesty, integrity, and objectivity.

  22. 20- Dunk for Duncan is probably not a fundamental skill ;)

    well, to cap things off, CNNSI reports that the deal is done. Keith Van Horn, Hassel, Harris, Diop, somebody else, picks and cash for Kidd and Malik.

    the west is very very wild now.

  23. I love this post! And, as someone who no longer considers herself “young”, I especially liked “the NBA demographic tends, I think, to skew a little younger.” You’re only as young as you blog.

  24. To me the blog is supposed to be the start of a discussion. And you know you’re getting something more truthful and insightful, not as much “spin” … because they’re usually not subject to the editing or approval of some suit.

  25. I like this laker’s blog. Lots of behind the scenes stuff.

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/