The You-Defined Sports Commentary: The Wave of the Future?

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/18/2008 03:30:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

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Over on the RealGM basketball Chicago Bulls board, there is a poster named Dougthonus who does a podcast every so often.

I've never listened, but judging from poster's comments, it'd probably be best to get to going on it.

To me, he is the new breed of fandom and sports journalism. A fan analyst. One of the boys...err...fans, but also capable of insight and perhaps even a dollop of humor.

Doug makes good and bad posts like anyone else.

He might be looked at as lacking inside information, but we all find out this information in peta-seconds after the rumor leaks. For example, right now, at this very moment, no one, including the ESPNers know the situation regarding the contracts of Ben Gordon and Luol Deng. The fans, the ESPN journalists are all on the same level.

He also might be looked at as a homer at first with nothing better to do, but with information available anywhere, combined with sustained postings and analysis on the Bulls, he can be a lot more nuanced in his questions to NBA brass than the average ESPN or TNT reporter.

What it boils down to is that he doesn't seem to be as controlled as the ordinary journalists. It's this rawness, this assumed authenticity is something that seems to appeal to a lot of these Web 2.0 internet users today.

Summer League basketball in Orlando was sort of controlled by a mix of Web 2.0 internet users and fan-like commentary. Donte and Gallante seemed to generate a lot of attention just by commenting on whatever seemed to come to mind, and in the process responding to relatively unfiltered viewer-generated email. They had a running commentary on possible names for the new Oklahoma City NBA team, starting with the Bombers. Yikes! They answered questions about what someone should eat for lunch. Someone even sent them an email about possibly interviewing Dougthonus, who incidentally was at Summer League, to which Gallante responded, "he's probably that guy in the purple shirt."

They did not need to say much about the game. What they did in 2 days of "coverage" was much more entertaining than the entire veteran ESPN crew on NBA Draft Night or any other game.

Yes, it's just summer league basketball, and people talking through an NBA game might be a little different.

However, consider UEFA Eurocup 2008, the tournament for European teams in soccer which happens between every two years that the World Cup isn't happening. The tournament was covered by well-known soccer commentators, Andy Gray from FIFA 08 and some Scottish guy. However, what was peculiar was that they were not at ground level. They were at ESPN studios. They were seeing what we could've seen on TV ourselves. No special access to the players, and once they got back from the viewing room to make those in-game commentaries, they would go straight to the ESPN studio with some ESPN guy and Julie Foudy and continue their conversation. The only differences between those commentators and the average fan watching the tournament is that they were probably well-paid to give their opinions and they could indoctrinate on a mass scale.

Now in an age of digital television, an age where these basketball games are broadcast globally, and in different languages, with commentaries by people dressed in suits, but still as far from the game as we are...

...streamed to people like me who want nothing more than moving images of balls in hoops

...just as the newspaper industry is getting ripped to shreds and struggling to reinvent itself thanks in large part to the wide circulation of internet news (and probably environmental concerns as well)...

...just as TIME Magazine revealed that the person of the year last year was You...as in Youtube, as in regular folk person generated content...

...what is preventing fan-based sports play-by-play commentary from rising and supplanting sports commentary?

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