Monday, November 23, 2009

Athlete Blogs, and The Potential Failures Of

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?


audsquad said...

Interesting topic...

There have been a lot of good player blogs out there over the years, but like you said, they're not consistent. I agree that Chantelle Anderson is really the only "WNBA" blogger that I can think of that has posted compelling blogs regularly over a long period of time. Candice Dupree had a really good blog during the USA Basketball training camp earlier this fall. She blogged everyday for two weeks. It was great -- and since it was just for a short period of time, it was doable. Taurasi had a really cool blog on Yardbarker for awhile that I really loved. Too bad she doesn't update it anymore.

It's completely understandable though. I mean, I've quickly realized that it takes a lot of time to write a really good blog...especially if you wanna actually provide some insight and not just link to stuff.

The difficulty of blogging is probably why micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and Facebook are so popular amongst athletes. It allows them to accomplish the same thing as a regular blog but w/o the big time commitment. It's also more difficult (but not impossible) to say stupid/controversial/inappropriate stuff in 140 characters as apposed to a 500-word blog.

Also, more teams are starting their own 'official team blogs' and then interspersing those posts with player posts and other guest bloggers to keep the updates flowing. That what it looks like the Dream are doing with AP's blog.

*sorry for rambling on and on :-)

Linda (STL) said...

For you to think that female athlete should only blog about their sports and their teams is crazy. There are more to these women than basketball.

Chantelle's blogs are amazing and I am waiting for her book to come out. She blogs frequently and talks about random topics. But is that only ok because she is retired from basketball now?

Becky Hammon blogs about various things and has high traffic on her blogs everytime she posts. And I have Becky posting about once a month. (If she doesn't post a blog she posts new photos or answers questions submitted by fans) And most of her fan's keep up with the Ros Casares games weekly and the ones that don't.... don't really care.

Becky's website is updated with scores and stats after every game, she really doesn't need to recap what she is doing.

Most fans want more from athletes, they don't just want basketball, the media covers basketball for them, so when they have their own personal blog... they can be personal.

And I might add, Becky mention's things going on in basketball on many of her blogs, she has talked about the NBA All-Star game, games against Spartak while she was still with CSKA, she has talked about the Russian Cup, the conditions of certain areas in Russia, the trip to Paris to be in the Euro-All-Star Game, her and her teammates going out and partying, she has talked about the Russian SuperLeague, Michael Vick, etc.

I think she may only have 1 or 2 blogs that she doesn't mention bball or her teammates in some capacity.

I currently do the websites for Chantelle, Becky, Renee Montgomery, and Charde Houston and I HOPE than NONE of them ever stick to just blogging about basketball, there is so much more to all of these women than basketball and those things are the things that their fans want to hear.

Monica said...

Becky Hammon has one of the best blogs. Dispite what you say her blogs are filled with substance, if things like family, faith, love and living each day to it's fullest potential are important to you. I suggest you go back and read each one. In particular the one inspired by a fan asking her about Michael Vick, or even her last blog that reminds everyone what it means to be thankful for the things you have.

ATLDreamFan17 said...

Although it was mentioned, I enjoy Anderson's blog. With so many restrictions on what players can say it's nice to see her get to share her opinion in an open and well written manner (even if I don't always agree).

I've read Mique's new blog. When the season was going I kept up with Lehnings blog however, it went silent. And I've also read some of Sidney Spencers old blog posts.

It seems most players chose Twitter to express opinions. Its quick and simple. However, I'm not on the Twitter bandwagon so I too would love it if more players could take time to give info in well written blogs even if posts were here and there.