Monday, November 23, 2009
I just took a look at a new blog entry by Chamique Holdsclaw. If these are her words, Holdsclaw can definitely write. It also looks like Armintie Price is starting a mini-blog on the Atlanta Dream web site. Price is off to a good start, mentioning the fact that she is working as an assistant coach for Mississippi during the off-season. A few athletes have blogs at the WNBA site itself.
The blogs are of varying degrees of quality. The best ones are the ones that give some insight into the team itself. The next best are the ones that give the best glimpses of the life of an athlete. What's practice like? How many times/hours does a team practice a day? What are the travel and living conditions?
Following that are blogs with an insight into the personality of the athlete. What are their favorite foods, movies, etc? Below that are when the athlete writes about unrelated topics, but some writes (like Chantelle Anderson) can make even that compelling.
I was directed to a blog entry by Becky Hammon, one of the most popular players around. What astonishes me is how little insight is provided. I'm more interested in Hammon than I used to be, primarily because she's on the Ros Casares team where Erika de Souza plays. Instead, the blog entry is more a treatise about positive thinking; Hammon's time at Ros Casares in mentioned briefly and almost off-handedly.
Athletes face a few problems in creating blogs, and WNBA athletes face particular problems. The first is that not every WNBA player is a writer, far from it. Like athletes in any sport, some players are adept with a pen or keyboard, and for others every character on the screen is a testimony to illiteracy. If you read the messages of some WNBA players on Twitter, it becomes obvious that some of them have problems with basic grammar. True, some are typing on tiny, tiny phones but for others I doubt it is the case.
The other problem is that WNBA athletes don't make a lot of money. If LeBron James wants to post a blog, he doesn't even have to type it if he doesn't want to. One of his entourage can do that, or someone at the NBA head office can do it - and I'd be surprised if the thoughts expressed were actually his own. Even if James wants to put pen to palimpsest himself, there will be at least an editor to clean up the text - he can definitely pay for not just a proofreader but for a web site manager. (For athletes making $10+ million a year, that might be a wise investment.) Whereas many athletes in the WNBA don't make much more per year than a low level clerk at the IRS. Web site management is an esoteric discipline, and the learning curve is too steep for many not to make a mess of it.
For some athletes (Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds) one point of having a website is to get around the restrictions of the press. Instead of a Boston sportwriter botching your message (or a San Francisco sportswriter letting out what a surly prick you are) you just go to your own soapbox on the web and let the fans hear the truth from your ears. This model doesn't seem to work for the WNBA, since the WNBA controls its message very closely and I doubt the league front office would let anyone go off the reservation. Kristen Mann accidentally strolled off message when she Twittered about how much she hated season ticket holder functions; you can bet the WNBA won't be making that mistake again.
The biggest problem, however, with athlete blogs is that posting isn't frequent enough. My contention is that there is only one thing that drives blog viewership - content. You can have the best Wordpress platform and the newest web gadgetry conceivable, but if you only post every six months, what's the point of having a blog in the first place? A blog is a conversation with the world, and if one party isn't speaking then there's not much of a reason to continue.
So here's my question to the readers: which WNBA athletes have the best blogs? A good blog should be at the very least interesting or should have frequent posts. Is there any WNBA athlete who is truly an excellent blogger? Chantelle Anderson comes to mind immediately, but are there others?