I decided to put up a late Friday post for weekend discussion, and see what the response is. The term "Bloggolalia" is a word mash that literally means "talking about blogs." (Lalia is a Latin/Greek word that means talk, more or less). I think it looks cool, so there you go.
Usually, MC Bias writes as if other sports blogging sites don't exist. (He also spends a lot of time listing the pros of cons of "I", "we", or "MC Bias" as terms to refer to oneself while blogging, and is giving serious consideration to the fourth-person "you" or "one"). However, a recent controversy on
http://www.withleather.com/post.phtml?pk=2218 drew his attention. (FYI: The comments and/or post may offend you if you are sensitive to foul language or the abortion issue. Proceed.) The author made this comment: "Let this be the 1000th reminder that nothing -- nothing -- on this site is serious unless I make it an explicit point to "take off my With Leather hat."
I thought the throwaway reference to hats was an excellent metaphor for a dilemma that occasionally annoys me in sports blogging. Many of the best sites employ "hats"; that is, the author is talking in a very distinct style. That style often isn't how the person actually lives/talks in everyday life. The styles can be intriguing and entertaining, or irritating and biased, depending on your preferences. A short listing of "styles" would be Leave the Man Alone's or The Big Lead's sports media surveillance and analysis, Deadspin's self-depreciating, whimiscal humor, KSK or With Leather's testosterone rush, This Suit is Not Black's cross-out self-exultation/depreciation, and Nation of Islam Sports Blog's over-the-top and yet internally consistent exultation of the black race. I think that's enough mischaracterization of one's blogging elders for now, so I cease and desist.
However, what bothers me about a blogging hat is that a style, by definition, is often imitable. So if you wear the same blogging hat all the time, it gets very easy for someone to borrow that hat. Additionally, if we were to hold a contest, long-time readers of each site listed above could dredge up a passable imitation of that site's writing style. Plus, as the sites grow in popularity due to their hats, they attract detractors who have caught on to what hat the blogger is wearing. After all, isn't this the knock on Simmons? That he became popular because of his hat, but isn't changing the hat anymore? Perhaps the only difference between today's new sports bloggers and Simmons is longevity.
In the end, I think the right way is to begin by blogging with a hat, but to discard the hat once the site reaches a certain age or level of notoriety. I think Yaysports and Slamonline do this well. You may argue that Yaysports has the blogging hat of Photoshopping sports pictures, and that Slamonline has the blogging hat of supporting hip-hop ball. They may have started that way in the eyes of some, but there's been a lot of evolution since then. Explore the text, and you'll find variety in writing style and posts from each.
Of course, I blatantly disregard my own conclusion, and enjoy blogging hatless myself when no one is reading. :-) Let's hear it for blogging ADD!!! So, for your discussion this weekend while I attempt to school kids a decade younger than me in my high school's annual alumni game; hats, or no hats? And if you feel I have unfairly characterized your hat, by all means, comment.