Sports, given their unrelenting choke-hold on American culture, naturally dominate a good chunk of online news coverage. Sports companies like ESPN are as much an online presence as they are on TV. The quality of sports blogs, though, runs the gamut from excellent (deadspin.com) to awful (any amateur blog about the Red Sox. Sorry, Boston readers). But some sports blogs are written by insiders — athletes, managers, etc. Fast Company takes a look at the fantastic blogs of six true sports insiders.
The Blog: Billionaire web entrepreneur man-child Mark Cuban isn't shy. Since purchasing the Mavericks, Cuban has been fined over $1.3 million for 13 separate public statements criticizing NBA officials. And his blog often seems to be a barely edited transcription of his thoughts.
Why Read It: Though he doesn't blog exclusively about sports—and has been charged by the government for insider trading—Cuban certainly is provocative, stamping his opinion on even the most complex of issues within the first three sentences of each post. The future of Olympic broadcasting? "ESPN will feel that they have an advantage over NBC." He's just as blunt with his non-sports posts. On the Wall Street meltdown? "Billions of investment bank share buybacks." He even blogged here and here about his involvement with Mamma.com, the company whose stock, according to SEC charges filed earlier this week, he sold illegally. Cuban is fun to read because he either really knows what he¹s talking about or he writes smartly enough to hide his ineptitude. My guess is that it¹s somewhere in the middle, but all of it is golden.
Notable: Cuban is 50 years old, but he looks and acts like Mark Zuckerberg's slightly older frat brother. In June 2008, he posted a new favorite saying, which reveals almost everything one needs to know about Mark Cuban: "Today is the youngest you will ever be. Act like it."
The Blog: Chris Cooley, a four-time Pro Bowler, started the blog to help his brother Tanner pay for med school. Cooley estimates it will generate about $250,000 per year in advertising and merchandise sales, more than enough to pay for his sibling's education. Note: Since he is an incredibly rich young man with an incredibly hot wife, it shouldn't surprise that some of the site is NSFW.
Why Read It: Cooley's prose is as effortless and hard-hitting as his brain-rattling hits. His smart, entertaining dispatches on fantasy football (Vikings RB Adrian Petersen anchors his team), his new wife, former Redskins cheerleader Christy Oglevee (whose saucy photographs reward loyal readers) and his preparation for each week's game (sweating off excess pounds in the nude and getting pre-game jitters, one of his "favorite feelings in life") are a riot. Unlike some shameless self-promoting NFL stars — Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson, I'm looking at you — everything Cooley writes is genuine and true to himself. He never shoves anything down reader's throats, and that's much of the blog's appeal.
Notable Post: Cooley's revealed in late April that he celebrated Christy's 21st birthday by downing 21 shots of Jim Beam at a bar in West Virginia with her family, taking the sports blog world by storm. The result: A spread in the Washington Post, interviews on numerous sports shows, and the admiration of football-rabid beer-chugging young men the world over.
The Blog: Curt Schilling is a grizzled 20-year veteran of pro baseball, probably most famous for the "Bloody Sock" that carried the Red Sox to victory in the 2004 ALCS. He's may also be baseball's most notorious loudmouth. He's made enemies in front offices, newspapers, and in his own clubhouse over the years. Once he discovered the Internet's potential to more efficiently disseminate his unedited armchair beliefs, he pounced.
Why Read It: Schilling has zero qualms about ranting and raving about everything from the Iraqi War to the Red Sox vs. Yankees War to World of Warcraft (in another life, he would've been an anime-loving MMORPG addict). A staunch conservative, most of Schilling's posts have been about his unabashed preference for the McCain/Palin ticket. However, the real gold in this blog is found when Schilling waxes philosophical on sports. It's hard to take him seriously when he casually calls Yankees fans "bitter and miserable," but Curt's unfiltered writing is what makes this blog so readable.
Notable Post: The blog often serves as Schilling's soapbox for explaining his off-the-cuff and often insensitive remarks about, well, everything. In May 2007, he atoned for publicly saying that Barry Bonds had "admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes and cheating on the game." Ouch.
The Blog: Hosted by MLBlogs, Dodgers manager Joe Torre documents his transition from a steely, jaded, and tough guy New Yorker into a Spago-dining, latte-sipping, shih tzu-owning, resident of sunny Los Angeles. Torre's blog rhapsodizes about life as a West Coaster and genuinely reflects his equally sunny "new outlook on life."
Why Read It: Torre's blog is a hybrid between ESPN, Fodor's Guide, and Perez Hilton. That's to say: it's about sports, travel, and the glamorous life of Los Angeles. Torre has surprisingly candid and knowledgeable opinions of modern culture for a 63-year old life-long baseball man (and grandfather). The blog is possibly ghostwritten, but Torre's wry yet sage personality shines through.
Most Revelatory Post: Torre's Andy Rooney-esque rant about miniature dogs shows that beneath the Dodger Blue and Hollywood lights, he's still just a lovable, curmudgeonly New Yorker at heart: "I have no idea where you'd put these little yip-yaps when you go to the restroom, or even why they're such a hot accessory; then again, I just moved from a town where people buy color-coordinated pepper spray cans."
The Blog: Gilbert Arenas is one of the most colorful and popular players in pro basketball. His catchphrases and overabundance of charm would make even the writers of "Full House" blush. A self-described "honest" blogger who "really doesn't care what you think," Arenas' blog was a recipient of the 2007 Weblog Award for "Best Celebrity Blogger."
Why Read It: Arenas was thankfully born without any sort of filter between his brain and his mouth. As a result, his blog is incredibly candid and entertaining, giving readers a true taste of the man. Though Arenas is a tad verbose — his most recent entry is 6,000 words long — his entries are as easily digestible as a Dan Brown novel. Arenas' recent knee surgery will keep him sidelined until January, giving him plenty of time to crank out more novella-length blog posts.
Notable Post: Gilbert Arenas takes the cake for foot-in-mouth blog posts. There are many, but his commentary on this year's election gives insight into the man's astute political mind. On party affiliation: "If you have any type of money, you're a Republican, period." On tax reform: "I know Obama is going to raise taxes on the upper class from 20-60 percent." Most telling of all, his views on the very notion of suffrage: "Obviously, our vote doesn't really mean anything."
The Blog: This blog, also on the MLBlogs network, is exactly what it sounds like — an unnamed Red Sox executive anonymously posting their thoughts and feelings about Boston's favorite team. He discusses everything from potential trades to Halloween costumes, but always with a fun and genuine baseball-loving attitude.
Why Read It: The best part of the Insider's blog is reading how the Red Sox higher-ups make decisions, especially since baseball management is notoriously unscientific and unpredictable. Trades, hirings, and firings can happen on only a few hours' notice, and the Insider is a witness to it all. Plus, it gives die-hard Sawx fans unprecedented access to one of the best-run front offices in baseball.
Notable Post: What's most revealing about the Insider's reaction to August's Manny Ramirez trade is what he doesn't say. While General Manager Theo Epstein remarked that without Ramirez the Sox "feel like a team for the first time in a while," the Insider laments that "we had a great run with Manny, but it's time to move on." That's an understatement if there ever was one.