When Matt from Blog-a-Bull first contacted me about joining the SBNation network of sports blogs, I couldn't quite figure out what the catch was. I was just a guy who had too much time on his hands, an unhealthy level of interest in the Clippers, and a blogger account. What exactly was the downside to joining SBNation? I would have access to some additional resources, and more importantly be associated with such established and respected blogs as Blog-a-Bull, Golden State of Mind, Blazer's Edge and SacTown Royalty. It seemed like a no-brainer.
(It seems like even more of a no-brainer now that I know a little more, but the strange thing is that SBNation gets turned down by NBA bloggers frequently. I don't get that.)
Still, I was worried that there were things I just didn't quite understand. For instance, the supposed advantage of having 'diaries' didn't make any sense to me. (I later figured out that I just didn't like the word - it's not a diary at all, it's a user-community post, but that's another story.) And although my 'contract' didn't really require much of me, and the fact that I had nothing to lose meant signing the contract had no real downside at any rate, some of the few requirements in that contract were confusing as well.
One such requirement was 'Game Day Open Threads.' With a separate requirement of posting nine times a week in season, it seemed obvious that I would post about games. And since the community can leave comments on any post, isn't pretty much everything an 'open thread?' I figured I'd write a preview for every game and that would fulfill my contractual 'open thread' requirement.
But clearly, not all open threads are created equal. Last May 17, the open thread for the Clippers' critical game against the Suns received four in game comments. That same day, the GSOM thread for the Warriors game against the Mavericks received 140 comments, over 100 of them in game.
Now, GSOM's readership currently dwarfs that of ClipsNation. But still, they seem to be having fun sharing thoughts during the game. For anyone unable to attend the game in person, it can connect you to like-minded fans during the game, building that sense of community that is the life blood of the blog. So I'm beginning to see why it was important enough to the SBNation leadership to include it as a contractual obligation.
Even so, I have some issues.
The biggest problem for me may not be a problem for everyone. Namely, I don't think I watched a single game on television in real time all last season - certainly not a whole game. I watch almost exclusively on the TiVo - it lets me skip commercials, half time and other dead ball situations, and I can usually watch an entire game in less than an hour of elapsed time. And it's not just the time saving - I have two kids whose bed time is right in the middle of most games. I have to use the TiVo or I'll miss things. So I could make a comment on a spectacular dunk or whatever - but it would probably be about an hour after the play actually happened.
This is an interesting phenomenon for me, considering the fact that until recently I basically refused to watch a sporting event if it wasn't live. If the ClipperWife (7 hours until she becomes the ClipperWidow) wanted to go out, but there was a big game on, she'd say, "Why not just record it and watch it later?" Why not? Because if I'm not watching live, the game has already happened, and no matter what I do, the outcome won't be changed. I can't personally affect the outcome unless I am watching live. When, invariably, she would point out that I'm not really affecting the outcome anyway, I would cry for awhile at her heartless insensitivity. The reality of raising children (plus the decided advantages of TiVo over videotape) have changed all that. Still, if it's REALLY important, I'll watch it live. You know, so my positive energy can help the team.
Here's another problem with open threads: last year I didn't have a lap top so I would have been running back and forth from the TV to the office to make a comment. No thanks. This season at least I've got the laptop and the WiFi, so I suppose I could watch the game with my laptop in my lap. But how sad is that?
In fact, this debate has been ongoing among the bloggers at SBNation, some of whom are huge fans of open threads, and some of whom are lukewarm like myself. I think Kyle at DawgSports expressed one of my concerns best when he said (and I'm paraphrasing here): blogging about sports while watching sports seems like fantasizing about sex while having sex. Blogging is what you do when the game isn't on, while you're waiting for the next game to start.
Having said all that, I want to encourage you, the citizens of ClipsNation, to use game day previews as an open thread for sharing your thoughts during games this season. When the space time continuum allows me to participate, I may even try it myself (won't be able to tonight however - plans with the ClipperWife).
Like I said, some of those other fans seem to really enjoy it. Who knows, it might be fun.
Let me know your thoughts as well.