September 14, 2003

HOW MUCH CAN YOU WRITE ABOUT POINT SPREADS AND HOLDING PENALTIES?:

Where are the football bloggers?: Though the gridiron seems perfectly suited for blogland, it's baseball that reigns. (King Kaufman, Sept. 11, 2003, Salon)

The Web is fairly groaning with baseball blogs. Scroll down the right column of Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits, itself one of almost a dozen weblogs on the Primer site, and you'll find links to 87 other baseball blogs. The Baseball News Blog links to 155 of them, including some overlap with Clutch Hits. If it happened in baseball, it's on a blog somewhere.

But searching for football blogs is like looking for Metallica fans at a Clay Aiken concert. There might be a few around, but you're not tripping over them. After quite a bit of searching, I know of more blogs devoted to the Detroit Tigers than to the NFL.

That surprises me. Football, aside from being massively popular, seems ideal for the blogosphere. It's highly technical and complicated, yet it can also be followed and understood on a "Did you see that hit?!" level. It seems to me that brainy programmer types can appreciate the intricacies of strategy, blocking schemes, zone coverage and quarterback checkdowns at the same time that the, shall we say, less complicated among us can appreciate the game on a more foam-finger-in-the-air level.

"It's rather odd, since football is clearly much more popular as a spectator sport," says James Joyner, who with Steven Taylor blogs at dallascowboysfootball.com. "Football also seems to lag in other things, like card collecting and fantasy leagues."

The bloggers and webmasters I asked, all via e-mail, cited four main reasons for football's lag in blogging popularity: Baseball's literary tradition; the length of baseball's season, almost twice that of football's; baseball's daily schedule as opposed to football's weekly clashes; and the popularity of sabermetric statistical analysis in baseball, which is not as developed in football. [...]

Some bloggers say it's baseball's dailiness that lends itself so well to the form.

"The blog format is essentially an online diary, and therefore lends itself to daily installments," Belth says. "Like Earl Weaver once told Tom Boswell, 'This ain't football. We do this every day.'"

"I always go back to the daily nature of baseball," says Ed Kubosiak, who writes the Red Sox blog Out of Left Field. "There is a different cadence, a rhythm that is more conducive to writing. More to talk about. Second-guessing is second-nature in baseball. The history is well known and often celebrated. Football, for me, is tied to one day. Any given Sunday. Friday night lights."


We'll forego the myriad wisecracks that offer themselves about the capacity of football fans to read and type. Instead, let us just point out that all that really matters in football is who wins and who loses on Sunday and whether you won or lost money as a result. The players--as the replacement games during the last strike showed--are entirely interchangeable, a group of uniforms, rather than identifiable and distinct talents and personalities. And, most important, no one knows anything about the numbers and history of football, while in baseball we know who holds the records and what they are, from Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak and Ted Williams being the last player to hit .400 to Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth's 714 HRs to finish with 755 to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa passing Roger Maris's 60 HR mark in the same season, only to be passed by Barry Bonds with 73. Thus, baseball has a frame of reference and a cultural resonance that football lacks. Baseball conversation takes place in a continuum; football talk in a vacuum.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2003 5:56 AM
Comments

Mr. Judd:

Okay, you are entirely justified in slamming futboll, soccer, or whatever that aberration is,
but football has a distinct advantage over baseball: its fun to watch.

I've been to a few painful baseball games (Marlins and Devil Rays, okay, the latter may not actually be playing the game, at least in a manner that anyone would identify as baseball) and the most exciting thing is when the field rakers come out and dance to "Fins." This quality entertainment can be had at any Margaritaville, for free, by drunken parrotheads.

If they didn't let my kids in for free and we didn't have the AAA discount for $4 a ticket, I'd have never gone. And don't even get me started on the abomination we call a stadium, the Tropicana Dome! At least the beer stays cold, which is the only good thing you can say about it.

Okay, now I've had some coffee and I'm ready for the abuse.

Oh, yeah, Go Bucs!!

Posted by: Buttercup at September 14, 2003 9:50 AM

Perhaps Mr. Kaufman isn't looking all that hard for football blogging?

I've done a Big 12 football roundup for a couple of years now that people seem to like well enough, although it's in the context of my personal site.

But it may also be that there is so much more going on in football besides standing on the mound and adjusting one's cup (or standing at the plate and adjusting one's cup, or standing at one's position and adjusting one's cup, or standing in the dugout, adjusting one's cup, and spitting) that the quick hitting, pithy nature of weblogs doesn't do the sport justice.

You want the real scoop on what's going on in the Big 12? Go visit the team pages and message boards of the teams linked from my portal page. There's unbelievable give and take between knowledgeable fans. Weblogs are not so useful for such threaded conversation.

Baseball (which I've also been known to blog about at the college level, because I do love the sport) does lend itself to blogging, because really, how much threaded discussion of the way a guy adjusted his cup is necessary? :)

Posted by: kevin whited at September 14, 2003 11:27 AM

Actually, I think part of the difference is just due to the schedules the two sports have. Baseball, with a 162-game schedule and stretches were teams can play every day for a month at a time lends itself to blogging, because the situations in each division are in flux every 24 hours (OK, maybe not if you're a Detroit Tiger fan). The most interesting blogs are the ones that offer regular updates -- leave the same post on top for days at a time and watch the traffic plunge.

Football, on the other hand, goes only once a week, which in the NFL's case would allow for decent Monday-Tuesday blogging or even some pre-game stuff on Saturday. But unless you're really into the minutia of the mid-week injury list, there are three to four days a week where nothing much new is coming out in terms of informaiton, and all that can be said is carry over from three to four days earlier. What blogging there is there would natrually be topic and volume-heavy close to game day while running low on steam Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, barring a player drug incident, domestic abuse arrest, accident, etc.

Posted by: John at September 14, 2003 12:19 PM

Baseball is part of history. Football is a marketing gimick.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 14, 2003 8:40 PM
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