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Let Me Run the Team

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Back in 2001 when the Lions were shopping around for a new team president to make all of the important decisions, they went to the broadcast booth for their new man.  Matt Millen was hired and since then has been the most ridiculed man in the city of Detroit.  The draft picks have been questionable, the coaches hired have turned out to be flops, and the records haven't gotten any better.  All of this raises the question to why the Ford family made this hire.

Drew Sharp, a sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press, brought up a good point.  Sharp asks the question of when he will get to be the team president.  The Minnesota Wild just hired a Boston Globe sportswriter, and former beat writer for the Wild as their director of operations.  Teams in pro sports now put the fate of every big decision in the hands of the people that used to write about them every day.  It's not an entirely bad idea.  These sportswriters have opinions about every little thing the team they cover does.  Also, they have as much or even more knowledge about the team.  So, why not make them the director of operations, or the president.  A person like that would probably make great decisions since he's been on the opposite side of the spectrum before.  

All kinds of different people are hired as team president nowadays.  Former players, broadcasters, and sportswriters are all making the jump from analyzing the team, or covering the team to running the team.  The question that I bring up is how long until a blogger is hired into one of these positions.  I know it may sound a little outlandish, but if you think about it, the idea is pretty good.  Who would know more about a team, and have only the best in mind then a fan?  A person that writes about that team every day would know more than anybody else. I highly doubt we'll see it happen very soon, or even at all in the future.  But, I could see a lot of people here at the SB Nation network running the team they write about.  Imagine if Blez got to run the Athletics, they would probably have an even better record then what it currently stands at.

Bloggers are quickly becoming a big part of the sports world.  Back in April during the annual meeting of NFL public relations officials Steve Rubel with Edelman Communications (a public relations firm) addressed how to deal with bloggers and media credentials.  Here's an excerpt from the article by Sports Business Journal highlighting NFL teams and bloggers:

At the meeting, Rubel highlighted an Edelman survey of more than 2,000 people who said that the most trusted source of information was not a newspaper, athlete or analyst, but a peer. He explained that sports bloggers were the ultimate peer -- an online source of information from someone as devoted to a team or sport as most readers.

Rubel acknowledges that Web logs are still small, saying many have fewer than 1,000 readers, but he believes that those readers could be the most devoted and influential fans a team has. "They're the ones online reading about the team, tailgating and talking about the team offline," he said. "Teams have to recognize these people as a force. If they can build bridges through small steps, it will mean a lot to bloggers and a lot to the people they influence."

Most NFL teams do not credential bloggers, but Rubel hopes that will change. He recommends that teams pick two or three influential bloggers and invite them to training camp. "It says, `You know what? We know you are a conduit. We know you are important. We want to work with you because we know that journalism is changing,'" he said.


That right there shows you that the blogosphere is having an impact on sports. The first step is exactly what the quote said: bloggers receiving credentials. It's bound to happen eventually. Also in that article linked above is the story about how a hockey blogger received an invitation to the Washington Capitals owner's box after the owner himself stumbled upon the blog looking for info on his own team. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a blog of his own, so you know that something like that could happen with him if he stumbled onto a Mavericks blog.

In a few years every NFL team may have a rule or guideline that if requested, they select one blog for their team to give media credentials to for certain events (preseason games, training camp, etc.). After that happens it'll eventually work up to bloggers receiving credentials to regular season and maybe even playoff games.

Management at the pro-team level probably read different blogs out there on the Internet every now and then, that's obvious relating back to the hockey story mentioned above. Who knows, you could be sitting at your computer one day writing about your team's latest trade acquisition, and the next being asked to run the team. Like I said earlier, it sounds a little off the wall, but who would've expected a sportswriter to be asked to be director of operations for a NHL team? The idea sounds pretty good to me. In fact, letting fans run a team is already happening at the minor league level. The Schaumburg Flyers, a minor league baseball team, are letting their fans vote on game decisions for the second half of the season. Mind you, this is basically a big PR stunt, but it's pretty cool. If a team at any level of play-whether it's pro or minor-lets the fans manage the second half of their season, well then a fan that blogs isn't too far away from getting into the actual job position of being involved with a team.

What sounds better right now: Lions fans or Matt Millen? I think everyone knows the answer to that question.