Compiled by Austen Gregerson, posted Sept. 23, 2010
While it’s easy to just go to one source for sports news, doing so greatly limits your ability to be any more knowledgeable than reciting the headlines you read. Most of these sports news sites you’ve heard before, some you’ve actually visited, but I assume a few of them will be, er, news to you. From high school football to Major League Baseball, the internet basically has you covered.
1. ESPN: The Granddaddy of them all. It’s easy to poke fun at the World Wide Leader, with asinine shows like “First Take” and “Stump the Schwab”, but from an information standpoint, their website offers stats and prognostication on almost anything people will watch other people do. From a journalist’s perspective, it’s impossible to ignore them, so one might as well learn to work with ESPN and use it as a resource (a vast one at that).
2. CBSSports: CBS Sports plays basically the same role as ESPN, but is important to use as a tool to cross-check any information between both sites. Essentially, ESPN.com would be enough to gather information and read trending topics on sports, but it’s necessary to not put all your journalistic-eggs in one basket. I personally prefer CBS to Foxsports.com for their news side, although commentary from people like Jason Whitlock can only be found at the latter site.
3. TheBigLead.com: Now, to the blogs. TheBigLead.com, although recently purchased, has for many years been one of the top independent sports blogs on the market. Its usefulness relies in their position outside of the journalistic mainstream, where more rumor or hearsay is allowed to be printed. The negative implications of this are obvious, but that doesn’t diminish its value to reporters. As do basically all sports blogs, TheBigLead offers a venue to test the waters of word-of-mouth stories and openly question the validity of some other network’s stuff.
4. Deadspin: And if TheBigLead is a venue for questioning other sources, Deadspin.com might as well be a three-ring circus for muck raking. While it has begun to obsess itself more with the personal lives of ESPN personalities rather than question (harshly) their interests in the stories they report, once in a blue moon Deadspin releases a story that sends shock waves throughout the entire industry. It may be responsible for getting quite a few people fired, but the way internet commentary is beginning to take a stranglehold on the sports market, it’s not hard to imagine Deadspin turning into one of the more powerful news sources they love to rip apart.
5. Sportsjournalists.com: Although I have already brought this site up in a blog entry, it’s worth repeating here due to its unique qualities. All of the aforementioned sites have message board aspects where one could see what’s on the mind of a fan who has the courage to create and post things under anonymous aliases, but sportsjournalists.com specializes in giving those in the medium a place to share information, story ideas, or just general help. Some of the message board topics delve into the standard fare of favorite TV shows, pop-culture references, etc., but it is quite often the case that a reporter with an ethical question can open it to discussion and get immediate feedback from like-minded (or not) professionals. A job board is also included, and for an industry that is, well, hurting, the ease of access can’t be understated.
6. Twitter: Until recently, twitter was the place where you left obnoxious notes about your mundane life’s activities to anyone who would hear you. But now we have seen the social network turn into something much more useful, as a way to pass along breaking information instantaneously from one source. 140 characters is not enough to write a complete story, but it is long enough to write the headline and give a quick link to the story once it has been written. By following reporters from whatever your interest may be, staying informed with up to the minute information is practically impossible to avoid nowadays.
7. Baseball Prospectus: If you thought the sports blogs were nerdy, this site might as well be wearing taped-up glasses and acne. Baseballprospectus.com is the online version of the popular Prospectus book, which boasts baseball analysis and mathmatic equations which have fairly accurately predicted the future performance of players. This is their strongest suit. While the content, the good stuff at least, is only available through a paid subscription, its impact on the world of baseball analysis is well worth the monthly- or yearly- fee. Words like PECOTA, VORP and WARP are now becoming more and more used in evaluating baseball players, and if you have no idea what any of them mean, you might as well be judging a pitcher’s performance solely on their wins and losses.
8. Fivethirtyeight.com: While not a sports site most of the time, it was created and ran by Nate Silver, formerly a Baseball Prospectus guy. The usefulness of this site is to show what is possible for the rest of us. The sports world is usually laughed at a bit, seeing it as inferior to “real” news about politics and world events. But here we have a sports guy who, using mostly things he learned by analyzing sports, has forever changed how people analyze polling numbers and predict future trends. Not bad for a stick-and-ball guy.
9. Sports Illustrated Vault: While at first you get lost in seeing all the cool old athletic pictures, Sports Illustrated’s archives serve as a well of knowledge for sports back when. No longer does someone have to rely upon one guy with gray hair to tell them how people really felt about Muhammad Ali in his prime, now you can read columns that were written about him at the current time period. All in all, this might be the most useful researching tool on this entire list.
10. Rivals: It makes many people uneasy, including to a degree myself, to start covering high school sports the same way we do professional and collegiate. We may want to keep the illusion of high schools being the last sanctuary of pure sports, but anyone who has played any major sport in high school knows this to be a fairytale. What Rivals.com offers is the most expansive resource for scouting high school talent before they come to college.
11. CoachT.com: This website, I assume, is unrecognizable to most. But it is another high school sports website, in the same vein as Rivals, but this time dealing with only a few states. It started out primarily as a way to cover a Tennessee girl’s basketball team, but over the years has come to cover all sports in the state, and now many in the region. Fan message boards offer a place for trash talk to be passed around electronically, but the importance of this site is to recognize how local sports can sustain a business model, even a successful one at that.