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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