Amy K. Nelson (ESPN), Mike Hall (NESN), Jeff Pyatt (Real Clear Sports), Jeff Pearlman (SI), Dan Steinberg (WaPo), Bethlehem Shoals (FreeDarko)
Yeah, you know how that line ends and the song keeps sticking in my head as I write a recap of “Blogs With Balls 1.0”. Actually, I don’t have the biggest of them all, clearly. It’s probably a good thing I have none of those dangly somewhat spherical objects at all, as I’ve been straddling a fence (hopefully not picket) over the last couple years; an awkward, fascinating, challenging place to hang out. See, when it comes to this here blog, I don’t really consider myself media – in fact, I’m never quite sure what to consider myself and I’ve given up trying to define my role. I’ve told Kasten I’m not media, yet later, Mr. Chatter pointed out I write, take photographs (some published), appear on TV and radio – in other words, the very definition of media. But I’m not fully credentialed and have fought my way to respectability and limited access. Yet I work in media, if only on the back end where I’m relatively invisible, because I actually love media and aspire to being as good as the rest, whether that’s writing, doing videos, or taking sports photos. To punctuate the whole straddling thing, my nametag had my workplace on it instead of my blog!
I absolutely was not going to pass up attending the first organized sports blogger conference in NYC this past weekend. The event felt rather historic and I wanted to be a part of it. Also, Dan Steinberg was slated to be a panelist in the “Why We Hate You – The Media’s Take” panel and I was curious to hear what that panel would entail from my perspective on both sides of the fence. Finally, I was really looking forward to the networking aspect. Covering a single team in a single sport really tends to leave one hidden from the rest of the sports world. And I am a sports blogger, after all, so I was kind of surprised when the first thing Steinberg asked upon seeing me was, “What are you doing here?” (enter stereotypical interweb-speak LOL) I quickly borrowed a sharpie and corrected my nametag.
HHR (Hugging Harold Reynolds) Media did a fantastic job organizing the event from nailing down panelists, coming up with topics, reserving the place, to getting big-name sponsors. The event exploded from an expected 50 or so attendees to about 300! He even secured a tour of the MLB Network studios for the lucky participants who were in town on Friday. The bottom of Stout was packed out and the irony of being shoved in a bar’s basement was not lost on anyone. Representatives from most big sports names were in attendance (ESPN, SI, etc.)
Many of the panels focused on “personal brand” and “monetizing”. I’m not terribly interested in those because I’m not a fan of acronyms and buzz words, but I know many are. In my work capacity, well, we have people for that marketing and ads thing. On my blog, it’d be nice if it made more money, but I don’t really expect it to, so I don’t put much effort or thought into that. I do best by selling photos and the occasional local ad. I prefer to think of Twitter as people just being themselves, not people marketing, although I get the point and Sports Media Challenge “launching” Shaq on Twitter has turned out phenomenal. I do actually take some interest in the “launching” aspect as I have considered if I have any potential as a social media consultant/coach. I didn’t set out to do it on purpose, but I do think I’ve created my own sort of personal brand as MissChatter. Not that I’m really marketable as anything other than someone who knows a lot about the Nationals!
As for the media panel, nothing was resolved. They don’t hate us (no surprise there). I think I actually could have offered some insight from seeing both sides of the “business” (blogging and media). I’m more interested in a
possible upcoming On The DL Podcast interview with Dan Steinberg and Greg Wyshynski as there seemed to be some unfinished debate left hanging there.
The panels zipped by throughout the day with a brief break for lunch and an hour of free Guinness 250. Plus, the bar was open, so many attendees were partaking upon arrival and the buzz of chatter overwhelmed panelists by the end of the day. I had a little fun on Twitter counting how many glasses I heard clink or shatter on the concrete floor (a recurring theme throughout the day). Unforunately, this impacted the GQ hosted after-party and networking aspect I had so been looking forward to. Many were already on their way to drunkenness by the time we arrived at Foley’s down the street and the free tequila shots served by wigged women in skimpy silver dresses only added to the pandemonium. I looked around and realized my train ticket back at 3 AM meant a very long night and just hoped I’d find people sober enough to keep me company until then (I did)! Pretty much everyone I knew from DC had already left except for Chris Mottram. But the night was about shaking hands and meeting new people, right? So I pulled myself out of my cocoon a bit and socialized.
Laura, from GoGameFace.com
The Dugout Sports Show broadcasts from the Stout basement
I’m glad I did! I talked nerdy computer backends with some guys from SB Nation. I also had a wonderful time chatting baseball with a couple New Yorkers who hung with me til the end, one being Mark Healey who does a live radio show from Foley’s for Baseball Digest. Since the news of Manny’s alleged demise broke that afternoon, every Mets fan I spoke with (Writing The Pine among them – love creative names) eagerly jumped in to say they’d be happy to have him replace Jerry Manuel. The bobbleheads on a shelf were bobbling spontaneously as we talked Stephen Strasburg, signing factors, agents, injury risk, young pitchers, you-name-it! Oh, I also spotted an autographed Stephen Colbert baseball in a case. Cool!
The line I walked away with that stuck with me was not that I should consider myself media, but rather a “professional sports fan”. I already don’t worry about being held accountable or being disrespectful. Regulars know I’m not one to spout off rants (unless deserved). I talk to people in the organization all the time, never rip players in a personal hurtful manner, and just generally (try to) keep my enthusiasm up. The point driven home that stuck with me was excel at what you’re the best at and concentrate on that. I’m trying to figure out what that is – my enthusiasm? Photography? Goofy videos? I’ll figure it out…
I wish I’d brought my real camera, but I didn’t want to schlep it around all day. I also kinda wish I’d brought a video camera! [ Photoset ] taken with my iPhone and point ‘n shoot.
Thanks to the HHR team, the panelists for bravely going where no one had gone before, Stout, GQ, and Foley’s. Great time!