New Jocks on the Blog

By Jennifer Garrett

There are few things sweeter in the summertime than the crack of the bat, the smell of popcorn, and a hearty chant of "Yankees Suck." Since time immemorial, there has been one way and one way only to express true devotion as a fan: Paint your team's name somewhere on your body and scream bloody murder from the sidelines. No more. Now there is merchandising to help fans express their emotions without body paint, and Blogger to help give their vocal cords a rest while calling out the refs, umpires, overpriced players and/or GMs who have ruined their team's chances of ever making it to the playoffs.

From women's basketball to golf, fans of every sport under the sun (except perhaps curling) come out to write about what they love and what they hate, who's on the DL and who should be on the DL, why their team is the greatest and why their arch rival is the source of all evil everywhere. If you are a Pistons fan, you will blog the joy of handily winning an NBA championship. And if you're a Lakers fan, well, you try not to weep in public. Blogging and sports are a match made in heaven—there is always something to discuss in the sporting world, even in the off-season (trades, injuries, uniform changes, draft picks) and the true fan wants to discuss them all. At length. With comments enabled. To understand the mindset of the true fan, you must first understand the word fanatic. (And there may be no better place to understand that than Boston, the best sports town in the US. Doubt it? Check out the Boston Sports Blog—the self-proclaimed best sports town blog for the best sports town.)

See: Comments FAQ

Fans, however, aren't always limited to the sidelines. Professional athletes themselves can be avid followers of the game. Ruth Riley, a center for the WNBA's Detroit Shock, was on hand to watch her male counterparts bring home the championship, and she had a few things to say about it on her blog:

"Every time the Pistons needed someone to step up, they were ready to meet the challenge. Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince rose to the next level of stardom, Corliss Williamson was ready when his number was called and Mike James came in when they needed a spark. The entire bench was utilized throughout the playoffs, which is something you don't see often in professional athletics."

Like any blog, Riley's covers a range of subjects—from making a play against a teammate to the idea of patriotism—and the lucky reader (and fan) gets a glimpse inside the life and mind of a professional athlete.

Riley isn't the only athlete-blogger out there, however. NBA.com hosts an entire squad of bloggers—from NBA guard Jay Williams to Bernie Bickerstaff, GM and head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats—people from all aspects of the game, putting their observations and commentary online, for fan and foe alike. Football fans can get the dish from Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning, who keeps his fans updated via Peyton's Diaries, available on his personal website. Last January, his team was about to face the New England Patriots, and Manning wrote, "We have been fortunate enough to advance to the AFC Championship Game in New England this weekend. We weren't satisfied with just winning one playoff game." The Pats weren't having any of that and put an end to the Colts' run with four sacks and four interceptions on Manning during their 24-14 win. I noticed Manning didn't blog about that.

Blogs are a way for professional athletes to communicate with their fans without the filter of professional sports writers. (Although the pros are already on to this game, and have countered with blogs of their own.) Blogs also allow fans to follow the sports they love to the fullest extent of the law, whether it is writing commentary on a team's progress or finding articles scattered throughout the internet and bringing them together for the sports enthusiast.

See: What is BlogThis!?

Whatever your poison, it's summer, the living is easy, the sports are plentiful, and the blogging is free. The NBA finals just wrapped up, the WNBA is in full swing, baseball is the national pastime, and the Olympics are on the way. Is there a better time to be a sports fan? Pick a sport, pick a team, and take part in the ancient rituals of fans everywhere: Criticize your players vocally, take down anyone who talks bad about your team, and make sure your blog colors match the home team's.


Jennifer Garrett is a writer and blogger living in Boston, and the Sox are going all the way this year, baby. All the way.
Phillip E. Pascuzzo is a designer and illustrator living in New York. He was not aware he'd be illustrating for the enemy when he agreed to this gig.

Published: Monday, June 21, 2004, 11:05