While attending the Blogs with Balls conference, I was even more aware how crowded the sports blogosphere is. Panelist after panelist referred to the difficulty of standing out in a crowded market. The room was filled with talent, and I knew many more talented bloggers who were not present. While developments such as the emergence of Grantland validate bloggers, it also signals that bigger, more powerful competition looms. Paradoxically, receiving the very legitimacy bloggers crave could be the end of sports blogging as we know it.
At and since the conference, small fracases have broken out about the need for more female and minority bloggers. There was a early-morning panel at the conference about women in blogging, but I was strangely dissatisfied with it. If I were the head of a blogging network, why would I want to hire a female blogger? In my opinion, I felt the panel missed an opportunity to confront this question head-on. I was also shocked to learn via Punte just how few women had attended previous Blogs with Balls conferences. For a reference point, I tried to coax two NYC female sports bloggers to go to Blogs with Balls 1 a few years ago. Had they attended, if I understand Punte's numbers correctly, the number of female bloggers in attendance would have nearly doubled.
Also, a debate has since broken out about the need for more minority bloggers, spurred by AJ Daulerio's reply to being asked why Deadspin had no black bloggers*. (For more on that, see Bomani Jones's essay). I understand that if you make your living through blogging, it can't be fun to be accused of being racist and/or sexist. But if you will, please watch this short video clip of Deadspin's Emma Carmichael, the first full-time female hire at Deadspin, giving her thoughts on how blogging could be changed:
I think she makes good points on the need for greater interactivity, points that perhaps the traditional male perspective on blogging has missed. The reason we need more bloggers, not less, is there are still many more ways to blog and things to say that we aren't covering. Bloggers who are underrepresented in blogging offer us a chance to rethink and learn from others. There's no inherent magic about being a female or minority, but there is a tendency to bring up a different perspective to blogging that we need. (I've written about that in the past as far back as 2007). This doesn't have to be complicated...right? I personally pledge to do my best to bring at least one new female blogger and one new minority blogger to Blogs With Balls 5, should I attend. And I hope you all will join me in doing so, and that if you have hiring power at a blog network, that you'll consider looking for such bloggers.
*I think it's also fair to point out that AJ did a lot to promote the success of Katie Baker (now at Grantland) and Emma Carmichael (still at Deadspin). I saw him personally getting in arguments on Twitter to defend one of them when other bloggers tried to tell him they weren't good enough. But Bomani and Jemele Hill were also fair to point out the poor track record with attracting minority talent.