While perusing the 'net the other day, I came upon a spectacular website. Apparently, in 2003 Forbes did a "Best Blogs" series, and one of the segments they decided to profile was the at-the-time sparse sports blogosphere. If SportsByBrooks, Deadspin.com, and The Big Lead were the Columbus, DeSoto, and Cortes of the sports blogging scene (explorers as well as conquerers), then these blogs were the ancient Vikings setting foot in an uncharted, untamed, and unpopulated New World.
Right from the start, Forbes discusses the difficulty of compiling their list. Their thought was that because ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Fox News, and regional sports sections provided ample coverage, then there was no reason for sports fans to blog. On top of that, there was "no economic incentive to start a sports blog". I guess for Forbes that's all that counts.
Before I review their Top 5, here is perhaps my favorite line from Forbes's intro:
"Pro football and basketball blogs are the worst of the bunch--the pickings are slim, the presentation is poor and the writing uninspired."
Number 1: Badjocks.com
2003 Forbes description highlight: "a good-looking, fun and informative blog that offers a Kobe Watch, a tally of high school coach sex scandals and the main attraction, stories listed under the heading "Who Did Something Stupid Today?" With 3,000 daily visits, the site may feature a story on a gold medal Russian rhythmic gymnast who was arrested for cheating at cards, or a high school mascot waving the Confederate flag."
2010 Follow up: Badjocks.com is still active and was recently named one of the most influential blogs of the decade by Sports Illustrated.
Number 2: Off Wing Opinion
2003 Forbes description highlights: "There's very little sports news that Eric McErlain won't take an opinionated whack at ... The Reston, Va., resident supplies an impressively informed point of view on every topic he targets ... he gets 200 to 300 visitors a day."
2010 Follow-up: Currently located at the more convenient www.offwing.com, Off Wing Opinion is still active, although it is now apparently only updated once a week as McErlain has seized bigger and better media opportunities.
Number 3: FanBlogs.com
2003 Forbes description highlights: "Fanblogs.com is probably the best blog dedicated to a single sport--college football ... Making Fanblogs profitable is not on the agenda, they say, though they would like to make enough to cover the costs of producing the site. The blog got an average 17,000 daily hits this month."
2010 Follow-up: FanBlogs.com is still active and looks as popular as ever. In 2006, it was purchased by Rivals.com, which makes it a part of the extensive Yahoo! Sports network.
Number 4: F#%!edsports.com
2003 Forbes description highlights: "F#%!edsports.com is sports' version of King Lear's fool. Buddy Maguire comments on the day's major scandals ... Although he claims to have earned a whopping $8.05 from the site so far, it's the grotesque, not the money, that fuels him."
2010 Follow-up: I'm not sure what to think here. When I typed in "F#%!edsports.com there was no site. However, when I looked up "Buddy Maguire", I found a site called FrostedSports.tv which has not been updated since October 2008. Either way, I'm going to say they are not active anymore. Maybe someone out there knows something different.
Number 5: Replacement Level Yankee Fan
2003 Forbes description highlight: "Larry Mahnken's Replacement Level Yankees has a pretty, pinstriped design, in-depth opinions updated regularly and relevant stats ... The site is slowly gaining popularity, drawing about 1,000 hits in May, 2,000 in June, 3,000 in July and 6,500 in August."
2010 Follow-up: On April 2nd, 2007 Replacement Level Yankee Fan moved from its original location to www.replacementlevel.com. That web address however redirects to Revenge of the RLYW which picks up on March 15, 2008. It's almost as if the Yankees didn't exist for 11 months.
Overall, I have to give credit to these guys. Not only are they the forebearers of the sports blogging scene, but as a writer/blogger who has been on the scene for 3.5 years, I have to tip my cap to the writers at 4 out of 5 of these sites who continue to post quality material day in and day out.
Seven years is a long time. Great job, guys.
(Addendum: In 2004, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote an article on the growing sports blog scene. According to the P-I, at the time there were "322 blogs, with 267 dedicated to baseball. Some have become so popular, they are selling advertising.")