Everyone Is Now The Sports Media

I grew up reading the latest issues of The Sporting News and SPORT, getting lost in the minutiae of The New York Times sports section, and watching Warner Wolf "go to the video tape." ESPN's arrival in 1979 signaled a major shift in sports media, and the early '90s ushered in the "sports jungle" and the rise of sports talk radio.

But now reporters aren't the only ones who can comment on a late-inning rally, break news about a trade or evaluate draft picks. Today, everyone in sports is the sports media ...

The Fan is now the Media

From Deadspin and Bleacher Report, to A Fencer's Musings, sports blogs have certainly evolved from 2003 when a Forbes reporter said, "The presentation is poor and the writing uninspired." Some simply offer the voice of a rabid fan, while others are steered by teams of experienced journalists, PR pros and analysts.

Deadspin founder Will Leitch saw this coming in 2006 when he said, "It's a matter of breaking loose of the chains and embracing the way this is all inevitably going. We online sports fans have been enjoying this forever. We have no problem with everyone else joining the party."

To a large degree, the power of blogging lies in the feedback channel, the great community discussion. It's this collection of distinctive voices that sets blogs apart from "traditional media." They might be opinionated, controversial, and oozing with sophomoric humor, but whether you agree with their takes or not, they're uniquely genuine.

The Player is now the Media

Call it role reversal or a power shift, but now that the tools are at anyone's disposal, even the athletes themselves can be the media.

Shaq and Lance Armstrong have more followers on Twitter than Perez Hilton or Miley Cyrus (surprising, but true).

When Curt Schilling started blogging in 2007, he said, "... people will know about things they could never read about, 12 hours before the newspapers ever come out." Or maybe Shaq put it best when he recently tweeted, "I'm da reporter now."

Will this continue? Will athletes tell fans when they've been traded? Or how they feel after a loss? Considering the next generation of professional athletes is growing up using social media, I expect we've seen only the beginning.

The Team is now the Media

Access. It's what the ultimate fan yearns for. Access to the players, coaches, owners, trainers, mechanics, heck, maybe even the groundskeeper.

And now they have it. Teams now offer access to oceans of content fans could never get through national or even local media: Post-game press conferences, off-field activities, training camps, draft previews, historical footage, etc.

Add to that the ability for fans to participate with their own media, and now you have a community -- a vibrant, sometimes chaotic community, which taps into the marketing buzzword of 2009: Engagement. Going forward, the teams that truly embrace their media channels as marketing tools should reap the benefits.

The Owner is now the Media

Mark Cuban got things started and Ted Leonsis has since followed suit. While I wouldn't say they're issuing "breaking news" on their respective blogs, they do offer a unique perspective into the business that's been otherwise unavailable. Again, look for this trend to continue, as more owners get comfortable with the available tools and channels. Honestly, wouldn't it have been fun to read George Steinbrenner's blog during his countless squabbles with Billy Martin?

The League is now the Media

NFL Network. NBA Network. NHL Network. MLB Network. They're now on every major cable system in the country. They delve deeper into each sport than the majors or cable nets care to or have time for.

Factor in the coming wave of IPTV and web-enabled television, and I expect to see channels owned and operated by everyone from Formula One's FIA (or maybe the Formula One Teams Association?) to the International Rugby Board to the World Curling Federation. And each will be highly relevant to their audience. Would you pay a monthly subscription, or a pay-per-view fee to watch your favorite sport? Probably, if they're the only ones offering it live.

Granted, there are still tons of rights issues to be explored among teams, leagues and broadcasters for digital streaming of games, but the wheels are in motion and there's too much money already invested for it to simply collapse.

Where does it all go from here? Ask everyone you know in the sports media -- I'm sure they'd all be happy to tell you ...

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3 comments about "Everyone Is Now The Sports Media ".
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  1. Christopher Laurance from Distraction Marketing, July 14, 2009 at 3:12 p.m.

    I grew up with "the sport is the media" and everything else was secondary.

    I think what you've identified is that the "media" in a compulsive and addictive need to make "everything the media" has now created expectations within our culture that "you must be the media" or

    "Everyone will get their 15 minutes of fame", and sadly, most would be happy if they got that much.

  2. Douglas Warshaw from First-Person Communication, LLC, July 14, 2009 at 7:28 p.m.

    This is dead on the mark. And exactly why we started JO (see NY TIMES:
    --Douglas Warshaw

  3. Matt O'brien from Kirkland North, July 31, 2009 at 11:25 a.m.

    Great article - although I would have mentioned SB Nation. No one does a better job of giving fans a voice than they do.

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