In the final article of our series about the intersection of technology and sports, we will briefly examine in impact of weblogs (now known as "blogs") on the sports world.
Many of you remember 1998, the title run by thethat marked our third appearance in the National Finals in as many years, two of which resulted in the Wildcats being crowned national champions. Many, if not most of us had Internet access back then, but in those days, sports content was limited mostly to the on-line presence of major publications. There were a few sports-specific message boards and fan sites, but most of these bore little resemblance to the now-ubiquitous sports communities we see all over the Internet.
How different the fan experience was back then for the tech savvy! You could not really share your feelings with the world, only the relative few inside your immediate circle of friends or family. Sports information was something you had to purchase from stores, and the only real-time or near real-time sports delivery available was in the form of traditional broadcast media. Local team coverage was spotty and relegated to a couple of call-in shows and five minutes during the broadcast sports report. Reporting was a mile wide and an inch deep, with very few opportunities to examine statistical trends, hobnob with fellow dedicated fans, and even interact with the sportscasters who covered the teams themselves.
Enter the sports blog, which began to erupt on the scene in the early part of the decade. They started off as mainly addenda to existing fan sites and message boards, but as interactive technology became more prevalent and less costly, the value of sports blogs began to be realized. In-depth analysis, a check on traditional reporting which had too long been allowed to go unchallenged, and interactivity with passionate fan bases made sports blogs popular. New interactive technologies such as AJAX and the wide availability of high-speed data made blogs more and more interactive. Streaming video and audio round out the full multimedia experience, along with static photography and expert analysis.
As innovations such as Twitter and Facebook has been integrated into the back-ends of sports blogs, an amazing new trend has developed where you can get feedback on every major sports events from talented and experienced sports commentators as the story develops. Now, as soon as somebody has an opinion and is able to darken a few pixels on the monitor, he or she can enlighten the world and create value to everyone who enjoys fandom.
Sports blogs not only deliver content themselves, but also direct users to other content and act as a meta-filter to help weed through the maze of the World Wide Web and focus on the most germane and intelligent content, helping users avoid the poorly-written, useless or mundane. It also provides a forum for the users to interact not just with their fellow fans, but with the fans of other programs and even other nations on a scale would have been impossible only ten years ago. Vast amounts of content and information can be condensed down into usable bits by skilled bloggers, and delivered for consumption by their readers.
Sports blogs are a relatively new phenomenon, but networks like SBNation, among others, are suddenly among the hotter properties on the Internet, and are growing by leaps and bounds. Constant innovation is taking place to keep this budding industry growing and prospering, and as more and more people become "plugged in" to the experience, sports enjoyment is radically enhanced. More fans are more in tune with their team than ever.
Think about then, and think about now. What a difference a decade makes!