Archive for August, 2010

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Bloggers. Teams. Media. Can’t We All Just Get Along?

August 26, 2010

So Greg W. of Puck Daddy fame posted today regarding the NHL wanting to ban bloggers & online based journalists from visitor’s locker rooms. It’s quite a provocative issue, as the growth of online blog conglomerates like SBNation & Bleacher Report has muddied the line between “professional writer” and “blogger.” It’s especially gotten stickier as traditional MSM outlets are now starting to rely on sites like Bleacher Report for their sports content. The thing is, there’s no real hard and fast playbook for how teams need to deal with the rapid growth of social media entities. Twitter & blogs have definitely changed how sports have been covered. Discussion happens instantaneously and teams have to monitor many different entities. It can be taxing role for whomever is assigned that duty by a team.

As has been pointed out by multiple entities, the NHL as a league has embraced social media. They run active Twitter & Facebook entities. They work to organize tweet ups where fans can meet. They “get it.” It’s when the ball is passed to individual teams that things start going haywire. Each team has its own social media effort and way of looking at things. Take the Sabres, for example. Their Twitter feed is especially active and helpful during the season, and if your only complaint is the all-caps postings and the circular links to Facebook and then to Sabres.com, then they have to be doing something right.  Other teams are different and may very well be dragged into the social media area kicking and screaming.

On Twitter earlier this afternoon, Mike Harrington pointed out that teams might be afraid that bloggers will become a substitute for team websites. That’s a valid point and one I hadn’t considered. But how many fans out there come to my blog – or any of the other blogs out there – to find breaking news? Most people still hit up team websites and MSM vehicles first. In my opinion, the MSM is a news destination, the blogosphere is the commentary/opinion/snark source. There’s nothing wrong with either, it’s just that news is news. Player A said this. Player B said that. There’s no room for an opinion in a news article. A blogger can take the words of Players A & B and add their own opinions & comments. Again, neither is wrong. It’s just two different ways of looking at the game and two different ways of consuming information.

If a team wanted to take away the perception that they won’t be the first source for team news (and really, it’s a source for PR), they can just add a newsfeed to their homepage. I’m not just talking about a link to The Buffalo News (which I’m sure their management would appreciate), but reports on the more fringe papers, like those of the players hometowns, the away teams for that week, etc. Adding a newsfeed would turn a team website into a content aggregator very quickly. If my fellow bloggers and I can operate “The Google” and find a link to a story in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle about the summer that Tyler Myers spent herding cattle*, then why can the Sabres website not do the same thing?

*To my knowledge, Tyler Myers has never been in Cheyenne, Wyoming, nor has he ever herded cattle. But you get my point.

As media consumption habits change, the traditional MSM is seeing its audience shift to other sources, whether it’s the traditional MSMs web presence or an independent internet source. We can’t deny that broadcast sports reports and newspaper column inches are shrinking as more and more people get their news from the internet. While the internet can sometimes be a scary place for sports teams, they should also embrace it, using it as a tool to mine suggestions on improvements that can be made (say to the off ice experience, the website, et al). While fans are your biggest critics at times, they can also be your biggest allies. And fans with blogs are the most passionate ones, the ones that take the time to write about their favorite team and sport. Aren’t these the fans you want to court? Or is it the idea that these fans don’t go to the games since they’re firmly indented on mama’s basement sofa so the team doesn’t have to worry about them?

Sorry, old stereotypes die hard.

Now I’m one of those bloggers that wouldn’t know what to do with locker room access. I’d get lost in the fuss in the locker room. If you’ve ever met me, you know I’m reasonably quiet & shy. I don’t burst in and demand attention. I’d probably trip over my tongue (or my own two feet) while trying to ask a question. However, that doesn’t mean that there are Sabres bloggers out there that wouldn’t want the locker room access. I’d love to see what it’s like in the press box, but I realize that my little blog probably won’t get me past the velvet rope up there, and I’m ok with that.

A lot needs to be done on both sides in order to come to a happy medium. Bloggers should have to “earn” their credential from a team, whether its by supplying writing samples or interacting with the media relations staff enough so that they can feel confident that you won’t be a blabbering idiot. Or maybe start with a practice and then work your way up to game coverage. Teams need to realize that bloggers are not the enemy. We’re all reasonable people, except for, you know, when we go on our bi-monthly weekly “fire them all” rants.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this discussion leads. The NHL has some of the most passionate fans, bloggers and media members out there. Getting everyone on the same page in the same book is probably going to be a long, frustrating road, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Moving on, the NFL is having a social media trouble of its own. Mediapost reported today that Ochocinco was fined 25k for tweeting from the sidelines during a preseason game.  That’s almost a “no shit sherlock” thing for me. I mean, these guys are paid to play sports and have their heads in the game. There’s a time and place for interacting with your adoring (or heckling) public, and in the middle of a game is not it. If the NFL wants in game tweeting about what’s going on on the sidelines, send an intern down with a smartphone or netbook and let them have at it. Tell me that Brian Moorman is chatting with Poz about the philosophies of Kant as they wait for kickoff. That’s fine. But players themselves should not have the freedom to tweet from the sidelines. I know football is a little different than other sports where there is a lot of idle time, but as professional athletes, their heads should be in the game at all times. And really, I’ve heard that a professional athlete or two has left the Twitterverse because he was upset that the fans were leveling criticism at him. How would he react to critical statements if he received them in game as opposed to afterward when he’s had a chance to cool off? It would not end well for anyone.

And finally, Drew Stafford wants to be a duck? You only have to watch until the 1:50 mark to get the gist, and there is some language in the video as well. And is it me, or does Mr. Staffy look slightly ticked off in this video?

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Uh Huh, This is Costing Me How Much?

August 21, 2010

Most of this post was written while sitting for 5.5 hours in the waiting room at Transitowne, waiting for Roy the Car to get fixed. (If only it was that easy to fix my car’s namesake, LOL.)

- If you saw the article concerning Buffalo’s prep for the world juniors in the hard copy of today’s paper, you would have noticed in the accompanying image that there were large yellow dots on the floor of the Sabres locker room. (For some reason the image is not in the online edition.) Is management expecting a twister game to break out pregame? (“Right foot yellow! Left hand yellow! Right hand errr yellow!”) Or are they meant to give the players something to chuckle about as they watch the media try and avoid stepping on the yellow dots in the middle of the floor during the post game media ruckus? Of course, watch them be something as innocuous as patches over freshly sewn carpet, or something like that.

- Kudos to the Bisons for getting involved with the WJC fun downtown and wanting to host a winter wonderland at Coca Cola Field in between hockey games. What a nice diversion and a way to keep people downtown.

- I was watching PTI yesterday and Dan LeBatard was talking about the Bills in Toronto, and how he can’t say anything bad about the city of Buffalo because every time he does, his inbox fills up. Is PTI really that popular amongst Buffalonians / Bills fans that he gets that much “hate” mail? Poor little LeBatard . And speaking of PTI, where the heck have TK and Willybuns been lately? It seems like they have been on vacation forever. I enjoy LeBatard, but Bob Ryan is a little too dry for my tastes. But then again, as long as Reali is there, it’s all good.

- I finished reading Ken Dryden’s “The Game” while at the dealership. If you haven’t read this book, and you’re a hockey fan, you need to put it on your reading list. His thoughts on what makes the game of hockey great, the different roles players have on teams and the chemistry generated by having the right mix of these players is incredibly insightful. Sure, Dryden’s playing career was a bit before my time, so I was not as familiar with the great Canadiens teams as someone who is a bit older would be, but the book is still a great read nonetheless. I was particularly amused by his musings on why goalies are considered nutty and it’s not just because they’re willing to step in front of a speeding rubber disk every night.

- And finally, if this Geico commercial does not make you smile, well…

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This and That

August 14, 2010

- I saw a cow being born today! For a city girl like me, seeing something like that at the county fair is a completely amazing thing. And they really are not lying with those little signs above the mama cow pens that say that the cow may give birth at the fair, LOL.

- Do you think the Cup handler assigned to supervise Lord Stanley and Patrick Kane yesterday was in need of a medicinal cocktail by the end of the day? Stanley was in some pretty precarious positions yesterday from Cave of the Winds to the steel girders behind Buffalo General to getting stuck in a fire truck.

- Zach Parise was in Buffalo on Thursday for a signing at Great Skate. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Roy-Z was in town this week as well. Please tell me that the hockey gods went all Freaky Friday on us and swapped these two number nines. It would be a win-win situation for all!

- Jersey Shore is back! The sequence of the boys playing with a “chicken cutlet” that had floated loose in the hot tub was one of the most genuinely hilarious things I’ve seen on TV in a long time. I’m still shocked that they didn’t know what exactly they were dealing with, especially since they’re supposed to be such notorious ladies men.

- Judging by the release announcing Puck Drop, it sounds like the Sabres are mimicking the format of Puck Drop from a couple of years ago, rather than the “hey, watching paint dry is more entertaining than this” format of last year. Good move. Yes, I realize the jersey reveal has a lot to do with it, but if you’re going to promote something as an event, it has to be something that people want to attend.

If you’ve visited Sabres TV recently, then you’ve noticed that there is a new look & feel to this portion of the site. If this is going to be the template for a redo of sabres.com, then I like where they are headed.

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Hey, Look! It’s a Blog Post…

August 1, 2010

…that once again, has little to nothing to do with hockey. Consider yourself warned.

Last weekend, I drove up to Frankenmuth Michigan for a long summer weekend. I’m not a fan of taking full week vacations from the office. I do my one week of winter vacation a year, but prefer to take long weekends throughout the year. It’s just easier to get back into the groove and results in less chaos on my desk. But I digress.

The fastest way to get to Michigan is generally to cut through Canada. All was well and good until we hit the Blue Water Bridge at Sarnia. There, due to construction on the Canadian side, and Chatty Christopher the Border Patrolman on the US side, we waited for over an hour-and-fifteen minutes to cross back into the US. So what else does one do when one is stuck on a bridge? Take pictures, of course!

A lighthouse on the US side of the border.

This boat was well on its way into Lake Huron by the time we made it through customs.

At one point, the front half of the car was in the US, and the back in Canada.

One of the highlights of Frankenmuth is a visit to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, which is one of the largest Christmas related stores in the world. In addition to racks and racks of ornaments and other holiday related bric-a-brac, the store contains many holiday related displays in the rafters. You never quite know what you’re going to see.

For instance, I saw a Goose.

HONK! HONK! When’s hockey season start? HONK!

And a penguin. He looks charmingly like Sid, right?

Making goodies. My goodies are much better than Ovie’s goodies, right?

Sadly, there was no frog around to wish me a Hoppy New Year.

The town of Frankenmuth itself is set up to emphasize the area’s German roots. All of the buildings in town are encouraged to utilize a German/Bavarian style when remodeling building exteriors. The main hotel in town, the Bavarian Inn, looks like a German village from the front and a traditional hotel from the rear.

Hotel, front view.

Hotel, rear view. The yellow portion on the right is one of the hotel’s five pools. (Thankfully, it’s the adults only pool. No snot nosed, bratty children need apply.)

There was a softball tournament staying at the hotel while we were there. It’s all fun and games until a group of brats runs down the hallway at 11pm, knocking on every door and hollering. It was quite fun to watch one of the hooligans parents get (politely) reemed out in the lobby the next morning by the hotel staff. Outside of the children, the hotel is pretty neat to stay in. There’s a full arcade & game room that has skeeball lanes. I love playing skeeball, but after a marathon skeeball session, my arm & shoulder were jelly.

The hotel is connected to town via a covered wooden bridge.

The bridge crosses the Cass River, which only runs about 6-7 feet deep.

This chicken made of flowers is located outside Zehnders Restaurant, which is known for its family style chicken dinners. In fact, Zehnders has been ranked as the #1 restaurant in the US in terms of meals served. (And the chicken is quite delicious.)

While we were in town, there was a Revolutionary War re-enactment going on. I’m not sure what was more entertaining: the battle itself, or the group of Canadians next to me trying to figure out what was going on. I think they were tripped up when the “Highlanders” showed up, since they were fighting on both sides of the battle. (Sadly, none of the Highlanders looked like Jamie Fraser, so that was a bit of a letdown, LOL.) I did take pictures at the re-enactment, but since they were of people I didn’t know, I’m not going to post them.

Now that my vacation time is over (and its officially August), it seems like all the signs pointing to the end of summer are hitting me full on in the face. Bills training camp has started, the Erie County Fair starts in 10 days, and Labor Day is a short month away. Which all means that hockey season is right around the corner. Yay!

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