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Although I haven’t followed the minute details of Mark Cuban’s life, I do like what I’ve seen from him. He seems to take his ownership of his team seriously, not just as a businessman, but as a fan. And we can all project ourselves onto that: I know that if I bought a sports team, I’d still prefer to watch the games from the stands with the fans, instead of in a stuffy, isolated box.
And at the end of the day, when your owner has an emotional investment in your favorite team, that’s never a bad thing (unless he makes rash, short sighted decisions like George Steinbrenner used to). You know that when your team loses, the owner is going to take it seriously. And seeing as how the Dallas Mavericks are no longer the joke they used to be (remember when they’d be the bottom rung team you always played first in NBA Jam? They were like the Glass Joe of that game), it’s done wonders for the fanbase.
That being said, seeing as how he was blogging and interacting with fans long before other celebrities jumped on the Twitter train, I was a bit surprised by his recent post about the credibility of blogs. He even used a “B” word that’s fairly profane from my point of view:
Unfortunately, ESPN and local newspapers, radio and TV media have become the patsies of bloggers. If some random blogger reports that “he has heard that a trade of Joe for John is being discussed”, then the traditional media, as they have told me many times “is requested by their editor to run it down and see if its real”. Its almost like a sad joke. How do you make an ESPN reporter jump ? Make up something and put it on your blog. Somewhere a bunch of sports bloggers are playing a drinking game. Chug if the other guys made up trade rumor makes the ESPN crawl.
How to stop it ? ESPN.com puts up a page of blacklisted blogs and websites who’s posts they wont comment on or report on in any way. It will create a short term surge of traffic for those sites, but then they will go away as the proprietors of the sites realize that being discredited is not a good thing.
This is a pretty misguided suggestion on a number of levels. For starters, ESPN is not exactly a beacon of journalistic integrity. No doubt, they are the strongest sports media entity around, but they built their brand on entertainment like SportsCenter, and gimmicks like having the audience vote on “Who’s #1?” And they’ve had a baseball reporter on their network for years who has been known to lie about stories, or just can’t remember them correctly. In any event, Joe Morgan and say, Dick Vitale, as cherished as they may be among many fans, are not the sports reporting equivalent of Walter Cronkite.
Cuban acts like unsubstantiated sports rumors didn’t exist before blogs. When I was in elementary school, my morning routine involved grabbing the Newsday we had delivered each morning, and going through the sports section while wolfing down whatever sugary cereal we had in the house (particularly fond memories of Rice Krispies Treats cereal…that sounds pretty good right about now as I write this). And guess what? They usually printed trade rumors. Granted, these were from beat reporters, but they didn’t always pan out. So what’s the difference between a beat reporter speculating on a trade, and a fan looking at different wants and needs for teams and how they could fit? For example, sports talk radio has always revolved around Joe Sixpack calling and offering some crazy trade for listeners to chew on.
(Side note, cant help myself: Not sure if this is still a standard, but Yankee fans used to call into New York sports radio shows with the most lopsided trade ideas you could possibly think of . . . yet they’d be dead serious about the validity for both teams. You know, something like, “We need pitching help, so I think we should trade Brett Gardner, Kei Igawa and Phil Coke to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay.” Does this still happen?)
Here’s my real point: at the start of this decade, only a handful of guys controlled the vast majority of media outlets. If you had something you wanted to express, you’d either need to attach yourself to their resources, or try and publish it on your own (far easier said than done with the latter). Fast forward to 2009, and everyone has a voice: me, you, a blogger who makes up trade rumors and yes, Mark Cuban.
If you’re a fan of open communcation, it’s a wonderful time. Anyone can express anything, from the most intelligent ideas to drivel that was made up on a whim. But a blacklist isn’t necessary, and certainly not censorship of any kind. Want to know why? Because what we’re seeing moving forward is the democratization of mass media. Everyone can express themselves, anyone can read it, and the cream rises to the top based on the reputation you build for yourself.
Speaking of which, I bet Mr. Cuban knew that by writing that post, he’d get bloggers such as myself to get up in arms, comment and link to it. So kudos to him: I bet there’s a big traffic spike today. False rumors? Sure, posting those can help traffic. But if you really want to grab attention? Nothing beats calling out the whole blogging community and what they do. They’ll all get up in arms and link to you in a heartbeat.
Hook, line and sinker Mark, you got me. Everyone else too.