Friday, March 28, 2008

An Open Letter To NBA Bloggers On Mark Cuban's New Policy

Dear Blogosphere,
So I woke up this morning and expected it to be a usual day. I'll write some stuff on the Hornets, talk about how the Mavericks need more production from their bench, play with the dog, have the usual Friday night Sushi with the wife, and watch whatever indie-film the Paroxywife has added to the Netflix Queue.

And then Mark Cuban decided to get all wacky/progressive again.

Here's the thing. The article I posted about the Cuban policy wasn't really against Cuban. When Cuban went on to explain himself, I started to understand it a lot more. I agreed that all bloggers or no bloggers should be allowed in. I just didn't think you had to throw bloggers completely out. You could separate, make different requests, have separate procedures.

Cuban decided if he was going to get so much grief for a restrictive policy, he'd reverse it. On the surface, this seems like some type of petulant, "Fine! If you want it this way, you can have it!" move. But, despite his rather mixed messages on blogs in general, I think this might be something he actually cares about. He has a genuine investment in new media, and the rules on new media, including blogs, are something we as a society are having to define, and redefine, on the fly. It's new, it's fast, and it's uncharted territory. And if Cuban is sincerely interested in trying to explore the boundaries of how to approach this situation, then he should be applauded for that.

Or he could just be out to piss off Tim McMahon. It's Cuban. Who knows.

But, regardless of Cuban's intent, if the Mavs organization is serious about this, it could be a huge opportunity for bloggers. Or we could collectively shoot ourselves in the foot before falling off the cliff and hanging ourselves. It's up to us.

I thought long and hard this morning about how to approach this situation. I don't want to do anything brash that could be harmful to blogs, and I don't want to do anything that would embarrass us as a media entity. I'm no TrueHoop, no Skeets, no KD, no Fanhouse. I'm just a blogger that's worked hard to build an audience, has caught a few breaks, and is reasonably read. At the same time, I'm three hours from Dallas, TX. I asked a few of those guys what they thought about me applying, if I were to go and be professional. They were overwhelmingly supportive, provided I go and be as professional as possible, which I planned on anyway.

So I sent an email for information. I may never hear back from the Mavs regarding the situation. But I wanted to try. I think this could be a great opportunity for us to show that we're not all a bunch of idiots that (yes, you guessed it) live in our parents' basements and wait for opportunities to catch athletes in embarrassing moments. (NOTE: Not that I condemn such things. Lord knows they're in my Reader and I laugh just as hard.) It's a chance to show that while we're not journalism, (well, not all of us), per say, we can still be a valuable media source that deserves respect.

It is in that spirit that I say this. I'm asking you, bloggers, the internet, my fine friends in the series of tubes, not to get carried away. Let's not bombard them with application for anybody that's got a blogspot. (*Matt checks URL of his own blog.) Okay, bad example. What I'm saying is, if you're just going to get the access, if you don't have a genuine interest in covering the game, please don't apply. If you're a small blog, and you feel like you have something to contribute? By all means. All I'm saying is, let's be responsible with this. Basically, we're being tested.

"Here you go, bloggers! Make complete fools of yourselves! Prove how unqualified you are to be in this situation!"

Let's rise above that. Let's show them that even though we're newer, even though we don't feature columns with the same crusty cliches over and over again (well, again, not all of us), even though we haven't followed the traditional path, we still have something to add to the discourse of sports. Let's be responsible with the loaded weapon they've handed us and not shoot ourselves. Let's be professional bloggers. Not wanna-be journalists. Professional bloggers.

A well-known blogger when I asked him for his thoughts on this situation said "Nothing will change." And he's probably right. But I think, for all our complaints on how the media treats the average audience, and for our insistence that we have something genuinely valuable to add to the discussion, we have an obligation to try, don't you?

If you're planning on applying for credentials, we're looking at the Utah Jazz game on April 10th. Nothing may come of this, but if you're interested, and apply, give us a shout at the email on the sidebar. Good luck, boys and girls.

Matt Moore
Hardwood Paroxysm

Add to Technorati Favorites