On Ted Leonsis, Wizards Bloggers, and Why I Haven’t Written About The Team Recently

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Ted Leonsis
courtesy of Keith Allison

It’s weird when my friends and co-workers walk up to me eager to talk about basketball and the Washington Wizards, because two years ago I didn’t really pay much attention to the team.

Now my interest in basketball has risen faster than Jeremy Lin’s jersey sales.

In a city where the Hockey, Football, and Baseball teams reign supreme, the Washington Professional Basketball Team has been an afterthought among the locals. Now in their fourth straight year of sub .400 play, the only memorable item that pops in most minds is the never ending argument that the team should change their name back to the Bullets. When WeLoveDC’s fearless leader gave me the assignment to provide coverage of the team for WLDC, I took it on as an opportunity to learn about the game and a team that doesn’t get as much attention in the D.C. Sports Scene. The beat was also another hat to wear among many. Besides holding down a 9-5 to pay the bills, I also cover theatre for the site as well.

Blogging isn’t as glamorous  you would think. Unless it is a full-time gig, it is often a job of passion.

This week I was catching up on my blogs, which include many Wizards blogs that do a much better job covering the team than I. Also on the list is Ted Leonsis’ personal blog, where he wrote a post praising the local media for their coverage of a road game in Portland. In it he said how johnny-on-the-spot the newspapers and TV stations were and how many bloggers weren’t:

“NBC local news had a running scroll with the score; that was a nice way to wake up and have a cup of coffee. I then went online and read the Washington Post. It covered the game well as the writer was at the game. I then went to several of my favorite Wizards blogs; and what did I see? Previews of the game. A story about Portland and their plans. One had an article about the Miami Heat game from Friday.”

It must suck to be that blogger that hasn’t written about the team since their last home game.

Unfortunately that blogger is me.

I don’t pretend to be up to the caliber of Kyle Weidie, Mike Prada, or Asad Naqvi. I simply share with We Love DC’s audience stories that they may not be paying attention to. Like what Tom wrote in his response to the article I hope to be, “reaching audiences that would nominally ignore the sports section, and exposing new potential fans.” So I cover the larger stories, including games that take place at home in the Verizon Center. I’m also active on Twitter, where I usually tweet about the team on a daily basis.

“But Patrick, what if we wanted to know the score of last night’s game?”

Well honestly, we aren’t here for that- if you want the scores you probably would have checked your phone or this little website designed to tell you if the Wizards won their last game.

This is where Ted is wrong with his thinking: that blogs are here to replace NBC’s news crawl or the AP wires that will have stories recapping the game minutes after it ended.

Also Ted was wrong in thinking no blogs covered the game immediately after- he failed to check all the blogs before making a sweeping statement that old school media beat new media. Let’s also not forget Twitter, the true real-team news medium. I bet there were a few tweets out about the game before, during, and after it happened.

The point is that it’s not a Blogger vs. Newsman war out there. As much as some want to talk about the downfall of news- we still need newspapers and reporters. They are the ones that actually get paid to do this full-time. They have the time, resources, and ability to cover the team non-stop. Us Wizards bloggers? We are essentially working two jobs. Kelly Dwyer over at Yahoo! Sports sums it up well:

“They have jobs, and they’re essentially working double shifts to cover your team. And we don’t know if this was some sort of misguided attempt to get us to remember what a great job ‘professional media’ does when they’re acting all ‘professional’ (that is to say, getting paid to do something, and doing it), but it came off pretty crummy. It came off as Ted Leonsis, who couldn’t make it past halftime of his own team’s West Coast game, ripping on his team’s bloggers (who more often than not work for free or a small stipend) for not staying up to watch and report on the same game.”

There are many different places to get game recaps, scores, and news. That’s not where bloggers fit in. Bloggers are here to provide viewpoints and ideas as members of the fanbase. I look at the guys at Truth About It, Wizards Extreme, and Bullets Forever and I don’t see them as members of the media- but people that are more passionate about the Wizards than most people in the stands. They can break down games, provide commentary, and introduce ideas that are top notch.

There are some out there that have taken offense to Ted’s comments. They feel that in Ted’s eyes, they are should not be taken seriously as the “big dogs” of media. What I’m disappointed about Ted’s latest take is his choice to alienate his team’s biggest fans. While Ted has taken some great strides in giving bloggers better access to the team so that they can write more stories (for free), he has held them up to a “professional” bar that is totally unrealistic. Comparing a blogger to the Washington Post is like comparing Oranges and Bananas.

And of all people, a New Media pioneer like Ted Leonsis should know that and honestly, should know better than to chastise your biggest supporters for not staying up until 1 AM to write about your team. Right now the Wizards are far from being the number one team in DC and frankly, they need all the support they can get.

Patrick has been blogging since before it was called blogging. At We Love DC Patrick covers local Theatre, and whatever catches his eye. Patrick’s blog stories, rants, and opinions have been featured in The Washington City Paper, Washington Post Express, CNN, Newschannel 8 Washington, and NBC Washington. See why Patrick loves DC.

You can e-mail him at ppho [at] welovedc.com

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