By Mary Buckheit
Page 2

There are 71 people on MySpace with the display name "ESPN."

Of course, the worldwide leader does not presently maintain an "official" MySpace profile, but if it did, I would certainly lobby to maintain its jurisdiction.

Then again, that's probably a full-time job.

Keeping tabs on my personal page always has a way of consuming me with the fury of a scorching Snood habit, but I'd be willing to give it a go for the benefit of the company.

Right now, there's a MySpace page at myspace.com/espnsportscenter that's a pretty good representation of the network. It has the trademark red logo and it is friends with the NBA, the NFL, college football and men's college basketball, but it alleges to be 106 years old. If a certain conscientious young gal was maintaining the page, it certainly would not have such glaring inaccuracies.

This ESPN profile gives Page 2 a shout, describing it as "sports opinion columns from several writers, most notably Bill Simmons and Scoop Jackson." That could obviously use a little tweaking.

There's a super-lame page located at myspace.com/espnsports that goes by the name ESPN but boasts Tom as its only friend, calls Clive, Iowa, home, and claims to be a Taurus. Everyone who is anyone knows ESPN hails from Bristol, Conn., has 90 million friends, and is, of course, a Virgo.

There's a guy in Washington who lives at myspace.com/espn, and a kid in Syracuse whose profile goes by the URL myspace.com/sportscenter. Conveniently, I notice that myspace.com/theworldwideleaderinsports is open like the Red Sea. I could scarf it up now, keep it warm.

The girls of ESPN Radio 1380 in St. Louis have their own page, as do the fellas of ESPN Radio 890 in Boston.

There are 14 profiles going by the name of Sports Guy, five who call themselves The Sports Guy, and 11 Sports Girls.

There are 124 Kobe Bryants and 166 Michael Jordans on MySpace.

There are 57 MySpace profiles boasting the name New York Yankees. There's a quintet of Red Sox Nations, 203 Raider Nations, 129 NASCARs, 120 Buckeyes, 126 Go Blues, 16 Touchdown Jesuses, 52 Cheeseheads, nine America's Teams, two Philly Fanatics and six J-E-T-S.

There are 18 Barry Bonds, 22 Brett Favres, 24 Peyton Mannings, 10 Tim Duncans, eight Shaun Alexanders, six Anna Kournikovas and three Andre Agassis.

Chad Johnson has a page and so does Carson Palmer, but according to their pages, these Bengals are not buddies off the field. (But who knows, maybe they're Friendsters.)

Tom Brady has a very impressive group of friends including LaDainian Tomlinson, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Steve McNair, Robert Horry, Antonio Gates, Michael Strahan, Drew Brees, Daunte Culpepper, Vince Carter and Donovan McNabb. (Note: MJ is in Donovan's Top Eight, which made me wonder if A-Rod was Jeter's No. 1, but there were 24 Derek Jeters, 224 Jeters, 446 ARods, 463 A-Rods, and 83 A Rods, and I didn't feel like going through them all.)

There's a guy named Tony Romo in Dallas who you'd think was the real deal, especially judging by his appropriate headline quote, "The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first." But it says in his profile that he blew out his knee playing racquetball as an undergraduate at Louisiana Tech (not Eastern Illinois), so there's no way he's the same guy who threw for 306 yards against the Bucs Thursday.

Joe Namath, John Elway and Dan Marino are all allegedly on MySpace. Michael and Marcus Vick evidently log in when they are not flipping folks off. Bo knows MySpace. And if you're wondering what Ryan Leaf has been up to since retiring, you can look him up in Space, too (a few of him, actually).

These are just some of the sportos that can be found in the MySpace network that spans over a massive 131 million profiles, to date.

I started thinking about the significance of all this after recently chatting with golfing hottie Natalie Gulbis, who told me that she did not maintain a MySpace page but she had noticed that there were four pages that claimed to be her.

Sure enough, it's true.

It's an interesting world for athletes -- or anybody, for that matter -- as there's really no way to know the person behind the page. It could be a fan, a publicist, a poseur … or a total lurkball. Sure you learn how to get savvy and make some distinctions, but the unassuming, rookie browser is bound to get lost in Space. For example, is this the real Brodie Croyle? Your guess is as good as mine. Could this really be Kevin Pittsnogle? Probably not, because Kev doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would slug his page "chocolateboyhimself," but who knows? Is this Chris Paul's page from his Wake days? From a distance, but upon further examination, I don't think CP3 would relegate his NBA draft blog to schoolgirl diary status with upside-down smiley faces, even if his current mood was "curious."

See what I mean? It's a total crapshoot … and it can suck you in for hours. Who's who? Who cares? I thought about going knocking on the doors of folks who maintain these faux-athlete pages to try to figure out their deal; see what drives them. But I couldn't do it. Why? Because Ray Allen is in MySpace. We're friends. Me and Ray. And I heart Ray. Of course, it's not Ray Allen, I know it's not Ray Allen -- that is all I know, but I'm fine with that. I just don't want to know who the guy behind the curtain is. That's the allure, I guess. I have no desire to know who is back there pulling the strings. I really, really don't want to know that he's some awkward hack who didn't go to UConn and couldn't shoot a basketball into the ocean while standing on the shore.

As long as he keeps Ray Ray real and posts a sweet default pic for all to admire, I'm happy.

And I guess everybody else is too because we continue to be friends with fakes.

I contacted MySpace headquarters asking for a list of athletes who log in regularly. I thought it would be a pretty easy request, similar to say, contacting Apple's PR department with a, "Hey, it's Mary, I'm writing a story for ESPN. Can I get a quick list of athletes whom you've heard are obsessed with their iPod?" Media relations departments eat this stuff up. Answers like this are usually seeping out of their pores. But astonishingly, the kind folks at MySpace could only point me toward one genuine athlete profile. Uno!

Cheers, Melo. Myspace/CarmeloAnthony is the only page in a sea of thousands of athlete profiles that gets the top-of-mind stamp of authenticity from MySpace HQ. Melo's page features a genuine-looking design and calls itself "official" … but so do all the rest.

Now, of course there are other real live athletes out there who are checking their comments and posting new pics as diligently as they are hitting the weight room. Reggie Bush, Shaun White and Paul Shirley (of ESPN.com fame) have all fessed up to their love of logging in. But the catch is, there's really no such thing as an "official" athlete profile.

The waters are easy to navigate for musicians, who can log in to MySpace Music and maintain official band pages. (So, while there is still a sea of 43 Dave Matthews, 35 Dave Matthews Bands and 147 DMBs, there is only one page that dons the official MySpace Music banner head). But aside from the exclusive rock star treatment, every persona in the MySpace galaxy is really up for grabs … and I kind of like it that way.

If you know who your favorite player is, you also know who he isn't. And if you're not sure, it could be anybody as long as it's done tastefully, and isn't that more compelling?

Like it or not, it's a free-for-all out there right now, until you're asked to enter your social security number -- or something similarly as unique and official and scary -- upon login.

Until then my friends, mi casa es su casa … and su casa es mi casa.

And MySpace is your space, but their space is our space.

Mary Buckheit is a Page 2 columnist and admitted MySpace devotee. Her profile is private -- try to catch her ridin' durty -- but you can always write to marybuckheit@hotmail.com.




Mary_Buckheit
Mary
Buckheit
IT'S A MYSPACE WORLD