You may be thinking to yourself: “What the hell is Blogs With Balls and how does it relate to ECU sports?” That is a reasonable question. I think I asked myself the same thing when I first heard about it…not the part about ECU sports but the “What the hell is Blogs With Balls?” question.
Blogs With Balls is a series of regional social sports blogger and new media gatherings featuring speakers and panelists specifically focused on sports fans, writers, sites, teams, athletes and companies; and their ability to maximize new media outlets for promotion and advancement. I copied that straight from their Wiki page because they said it so well.
Blogs With Balls (BwB) was started by the guys over at a sports blog called Hugging Harold Reynolds (great site by the way…definitely a must read…). They were able see how the sports media industry was changing and they realized that there needed to be a place where people would be able to gather and discuss the major changes that were about to be taking to place.
BwB 1.0 took place earlier this summer in New York City. I flew up there with my brother who writes for AOL Fanhouse, Mouthpiece Sports and this pro-NCSU/anti-ECU site called Brahsome (we get along whenever we aren’t discussing college football). After spending one night in NYC, we made our way down to BwB 1.0, grabbed our name tags and started shaking hands with many people that we had e-mailed/G-chatted/Tweeted/linked with; meeting some of these people for the first time.
QUICK BACKGROUND ON MY LIFE AT THAT TIME
I was running my own blog and had been thinking about creating a blog about ECU athletics after attending the Purple/Gold game a few weeks before and discussing it with a few fellow Pirate fans over a few beers at the Pigskin Pig-Out (and a shot of Goldschläger or two & a few pitchers of Chico’s margaritas afterward). We had discussed how ECU never really had a fan-run blog like Tennessee had Rocky Top Talk or MSOblog for Michigan and how it desperately needed one.
We had talked about how the majority of our information came from Boneyard Banter and that the site itself seemed a little old. I still love Boneyard and visit it everyday but it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing site that I have ever visited and it is still running one of the old school “flat” forums which confuses the hell out of me (and, I think, the rest of my generation) because the discussions seemed to get buried under pages of replies and topics were lost and never found again.I have only dealt with threaded forums and they seem so much easier to use.
After the Purple/Gold weekend, the idea of a Pirate blog lay dormant for a while.
Blogs With Balls 1.0 was the catalyst that began the creation process of 200YTL for me (although Capt. Obvious and hattrick played a bigger part for staying on me about actually designing it and coming up with great ideas to get it to where it is now). While up in New York City, I began listening to all of these professional sports writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs talk about the changes that were happening in the sports media industry. There were big names from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, Yardbarker and a bunch of other places. SI.com’s Peter King did a pretty funny video even though he wasn’t able to make it to the event.
Throughout the day at BwB 1.0, panelists discussed the changing of the guard in the sports media industry. The topics were pretty varied and ranged from social media (Twitter, Facebook and beyond) to content networks (SB Nation, Yardbarker and Uproxx) to making a living as a blogger. My favorite was the panel called “Why We Hate You” which covered the debate of traditional media vs. new media.
It was an educational experience that taught me a lot about the sports media industry and gave me some great ideas that I used when creating 200YTL and helped me create my own ethical guidelines as a sports blogger. I am proud to have been a part of the first ever Blogs With Balls and wish I could make it to the second one which just happens to be in Las Vegas during the Blog World Expo. It sucks because I am out of vacation days for the rest of the year and the event would take place too close to our football game with Rice at home…and I don’t miss games at Dowdy-Ficklen.
I highly recommend a Blogs With Balls event to anyone that is associated or interested in the future of the sports media industry. It isn’t just for bloggers. You will not be shunned if you don’t blog…maybe laughed at but not shunned. If you are in the public relations industry, you will gain a vast amount of knowledge from listening to some of the top sports writers and sports bloggers discuss the future of their industry. It is a learning experience like no other.