Athlete bloggers aren't extinct after all
There's a reason Twitter has become such a hit with countless athletes and coaches.
It's quick, short and easy, a must for on-the-go types who live through their iPhones and BlackBerrys. Athletes and coaches are a busy lot. But give them something they can hammer away at in less than a minute during some downtime -- or even during some busy time -- so they can grow their brand, have a place to say things on their terms, and interact with fans, and you've got a winning combination.
There's a lot to gain, including money. As such, we've seen an explosion of athletes hopping on the service in 2009. The NFL knows it's here to stay, and has enacted a policy for its personnel on it. The NBA is currently crafting one.
So where does that leave traditional blogging for athletes? Think about it: before Twitter's enormous growth, this is what we heard about when athletes were skipping over traditional media in favor of doing things their way. Curt Schilling was blogging his brains out. Gilbert Arenas, who some dubbed the pioneer of the athlete blogging for his eccentric style and stories, was getting all the media attention. Mark Cuban was giving us stock market and business advice via Blog Maverick.
But Twitter's ease of use, its micro-blogging capabilities, has pushed the traditional blog to the background. While there were a few go-to blogs, there are several more go-to Twitter accounts. Tweeting has overtaken blogging as far as the athlete is concerned; why sit down and bang out several paragraphs, when you can essentially text a short burst to fans from wherever? Twitter fits into an athlete's lifestyle better.
But the blog ain't dead just yet. In fact, in some cases, it still beats the punch out of Twitter. For instance, Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen did a serviceable job of tweeting during the Bears' preseason, including updating fans that he was back at practice after a hip injury: "Felt good to be back to practice today ... feeling a lot better." Yet, another Bears player, safety Danieal Manning, shared his thoughts about his hamstring injury on a blog for the Chicago Tribune, and we get much more rich context: "The first time I hurt my hamstring was in organized team activities," he wrote. "I don't think I warmed up as properly as I should have. I went out and did a couple of backpedal drills and felt a little tightness.
"I learn more, of course, when I'm going through a game. But when I'm on the sideline watching somebody else -- looking at the good plays that they made or some of the mistakes they might have made -- I try to put myself in those situations and say, 'What would I do?' You get that visual so when you actually get in the game, you try not to make those mistakes."
"You get discouraged sometimes. You think to yourself that you could be out there making plays. You want to go out there even with the hamstring, but you know the minute you do it, you don't want to have another major setback."
That's a lot more fulfilling and informative for a fan than Olsen's quick tweet. There's an advantage to sitting back and going long form to give a more in-depth view, just as there's an advantage to the quick hits of Twitter. San Diego Padres front-office man Paul DePodesta can't efficiently break down each player his club received from the White Sox in return for Jake Peavy on Twitter, but his blog is the perfect spot for it. Michael Vick could tweet out a quick apology for all he's done wrong, but taking some time and making it longer in a guest blog post resonates deeper. Rod Benson is still his funny self on Twitter, but his stories from the D-League are still best consumed via his blogging.
There's still plenty of room for traditional blogging from athletes; it still exists. It's just that we sometimes forget about it, and its worth, with Twitter's newfound market domination.
Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.