Baltimore Sports and Life has turned 5…. now what?
Earlier this week, Baltimore Sports and Life (BSL) turned 5. The beginning for this site was on Google’s Blogspot. You can find the prior incarnation of BSL here.
The title of my first article was ‘My impersonation of Admiral Stockdale.’ Where I basically attempted to answer the questions of, “Who am I, and why am I here?” In that article I laid out my thoughts, stating that I believed having a blog was ultimately a narcissistic endeavor; as it exists essentially because the author believes their opinions are worthy of public consumption. I made the points that I felt there was always more to learn, and that I admittedly thought I could add value to the existing discussions.
(You can discuss this article on the BSL Board here.)
Looking back at those words 5 years later, I think I had things correct. There has been – and continues to be – more to learn. I also believe we have gained a voice, that has contributed to local discourse.
I did not have a grand vision for the blog when it was launched. Basically I was a bored office worker, and the writing became a cathartic outlet. The ‘Life’ portion was my intent to also write about non-sports interests such local restaurants, pop culture, and politics. I quickly realized that writing about politics would only likely serve to tick off half of my potential audience; and that a narrowed scope of topics would be better for the site. There is a larger story to tell, but that would further extend out what will already be a long and drawn out post. The highlights are that during these 5 years, the following things have happened:
- We moved from the Blogspot domain, to our new digs here in November 2010.
- We added our Forum in December 2011.
- We began adding additional contributors in November 2012.
- Podcasts were also launched in November 2012, bleeding into the launch of BSL Radio in November 2013.
- 5x BSL has been named a winner in ‘The Mobbies‘ – which is The Baltimore Sun’s annual contest looking at the best blogs and social media accounts in Baltimore. In 2012 and 2013, BSL has been named Baltimore’s Best Pro Sports Blog. In 2012 BSL was named the Best Overall Blog in Baltimore.
We’ve talked about where we started and where we are; the more relevant question is where are we going?
The existing sports media leaders in Baltimore are 105.7 The Fan, WNST, CSN Baltimore, MASN, PressBox, The Sun, & WBAL Radio. Each of those outlets has positives and negatives. One constant with each of those organizations, is that there are good people and coverage (particularly reporting) to be found at each of those sites. Even if there are people you dislike personally or professionally at a particular outfit; it would be wrong to paint everyone else at that company with the same brush. It is only fair to judge people on their own merits.
BSL is being built, with the goal of being recognized as a legitimate competitor with those existing media leaders. Like those sites, we have our own strengths and weaknesses. Our primary weakness as a site is our reporting. You won’t see BSL breaking news. Why is that, you ask? Primarily because we lack Press Credentials. BSL would like to be credentialed by the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens, and the University of Maryland. We’ve made requests previously, and have been declined.
There is a sizable portion of the credentialed established media who does not respect a site like BSL. Part of their lack of respect being that they don’t see us, or sites like Camden Depot, or Camden Chat, or Baltimore Sports Report, or I Hate JJ Redick, or Russell Street Report* at Oriole Park or at 1 Winning Drive covering the Orioles and Ravens on a daily basis. (*Actually, I believe RSR does have Ravens credentials, but regardless of the quality they put out – there is a portion of the ‘mainstream’ media which does not respect them.)
Some of the same ‘mainstream’ media which does not respect us (because we lack credentials) are the same people who believe credentials should not be provided; because we are not legitimate. That seems to be a circular argument, no?
What exactly is the argument against a site like BSL being credentialed? Since November 4th (the launch of BSL Radio) we’ve had guests on from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Baseball Prospectus, Athlon, Sporting News, MLB.com, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Info Solutions, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, MLB Trade Rumors, Sports on Earth, Grantland, NFL Network, FanGraphs, Football Outsiders, ProFootballFocus, etc. etc.
Representatives from those sites find us viable to speak with. We would like to think the Orioles, Ravens, and Terps should as well. If those local teams choose not to provide us with credentials, it will remain disappointing, but that is their right. They can operate their organizations as they deem fit. Unlike some, I’m not going to spend years crying about it on a daily basis.
The reasons why BSL would like to be credentialed are straight-forward. We would like to occasionally pose questions directly to the leadership of those teams. Additionally, we realize that being credentialed would make some look at us as more legitimate. Lastly, we think the work we’ve put out as a site demands respect, and we should be recognized as more of the equal we are.
We’ve acknowledged that a collective strength of the existing local sports media leaders is their reporting, and that reporting remains a weakness for us.
The focus of our site is analysis and discussion on the Orioles, Ravens, and Terps. In that regard, I feel we compare well with anyone locally. Here are some links to some of our coverage in just the past couple of weeks. Not previously familiar with our work? Review them, and let us know your thoughts.
Credentialed or not, this is the type of material you can expect us to continue to provide. BSL Radio will continue to grow as well.
If our primary weakness as a site is reporting, our second biggest road-block is name recognition. We have a great group of message board posters, and followers on Twitter & Facebook that help us promote the site; and we are extremely thank-full to each of them for doing so. Despite their efforts though, many locally still do not know us. Our analytics show that the people who find our site, return. We need to be on the radar of more people, and we are working on making that come to fruition. We have a strong Advisory Board comprised of accomplished professionals, who are being leveraged. Additionally, we’ve obtained some of the funding we need to increase our profile. We have a Sales Director who is working diligently on finding local companies to partner with. Companies who can take advantage of what we’ve accomplished to help advertise their respective businesses, while BSL uses those partnerships to have the means to continue to improve as a site.
We’ve come a long way over the past 5 years. There are a lot of people to thank for helping us build to this point. Sincerely, I’m as appreciative as one can be. There are additional roads to travel, and I’m excited to see what can be achieved in the next 5 years. Do you want an alternative to the existing local sports media leaders? Here we are.