Although I’ve been beaten to the punch and already posted an interview with Kyle on the site yesterday, it wouldn’t be right of me to not writeup the great experience I had at Blogs With Balls over the weekend.
When I first heard about the conference in mid March, I envisioned this being a great stepping stone for the greater Sports 2.0 ecosystem. Twice, BlogWorld had tried to do what BWB set out to do and had fallen short of being an all inclusive and entertaining state of the union/think tank/ social mixer of the sports blogosphere. SB Nation tried in 2007 with Yardbarker and NFL Grid Iron Gab taking over the sponsorship at Blogworld in 2008. For whatever reason, the BlogWorld sport’s track just didn’t seem to live up to its potential despite a lot of resources from the leaders within the industry. “In the future it would be nice to see more folks from the sports blogosphere out there. Among the sports blogging networks, only Yardbarker had a presence and that’s because they sponsored the entire track. Thank goodness for them; otherwise there might not have been anything for the few bloggers in our sector who made it to the convention.” That being said, I was very bullish on BWB to really get some momentum, communication, and camaraderie within this small world we all love and participate in. The name alone was an indication that this conference was for sports bloggers and put on by sports bloggers opposed to a niche side attraction at a larger corporate convention.
Three event organizers: Don Povia, Kyle Bunch, and Chris Lucas
When the dust settled from this great event, I was grinning ear to ear the most optimistic I’ve ever been about Sports 2.0, Bloguin, and my place within the industry. While I thought this was going to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, it was much more then that. At the risk of sounding corny, it was truly a turning point for an industry that desperately needed an event like this for both the internal and external validation that its relevancy, commercial viability, and momentum will truly change how sports are covered, discussed, and celebrated. Below are more specifics Good Problems to Have: Why not start with the negatives first? The venue was too packed, there were too many good speakers I wanted to hear more from, and there was a loud of chatter with people networking/schmoozing in a small area that was distracting at times. These are more indication that the event was more successful then could have ever been anticipated. The Opening From SI’s Peter King: After some technical difficulties, this was a great way to get the ball rolling. It was short, concise, and entertaining. Not overly awesome, but a great sign that there are some big names in MSM who enjoy what we’re doing.
The Welcome from Pete at Yardbarker:
It was great to see Pete kickoff the event. I had the first 30 seconds of this opening, but sometimes shit happens. Overall a good open and one that set the stage for a great day. The Panels: I actually started writing reviews along with pictures I took of all the panels. Then I realized that if these are going to be up on blogswithballs.com later on this week, you should just check them out in full there and draw your own opinions. 3-4 of the panels I watched with the same level of intrigue and intensity was I do a OSU football game. There were a couple panels that were less stellar but still very high quality. In the end BWB had great speakers and topics which generated a lot of constructive discussions about sports, social media, etc. Below are some shots of my favorite panels of the day. Power in Numbers- Content Networks (Adam Best- Fan Sided, Jarret Meyer- Uproxx, Dan Kelley- Bleacher Report, Jim Bankoff-SB Nation, Pete- Yardbarker)
Make the leap- Making it your Job (Greg Wyshynski- Puck Daddy Yahoo Sports, Jason McIntyre- The Big Lead, John Ness-NBC Local, Matt Cerrone-metsblog.com, Spencer Hall-EDSBS) Spencer is freaking hilarious and I was honored that he came and found me before I was able to stalk him down. Puck Daddy also lived up to his hype and then some.
Random Highlights -“You’re the Michael Arrington of Sports 2.0″ from a very well accomplished person within our industry. – Sarah Spain bumped into me and said “I’m sorry”. Yeah no apology needed Ms. Spain…. I really wanted to chat up Sarah at some point just to knock it off the bucket list, but an opportune time never came up. For now this will do. – There were a handful of people I was really looking forward to tracking down and introducing myself to. In many cases these people found me first and said some very flattering things about me, my work at yardbarker, benkoo.com, and Bloguin’s future. The feeling was on par to the last 2 minutes of a Full House Episode except it would have not been appropriate to culminate these great moments with hugs. – BWB will live in on in Ocotber in Vegas at the greater BlogWorld Convention. BlogWorld rocked last year and I’ve seriously already booked my flight to this year’s event. BlogWorld +BWB is the most potent combination since Ibanez and steroids (hoping that gets me on OTL). – Meeting so many great people doing some great things. From the New Media Director at the MLS whose card I can’t find and am pulling my hair out because she was awesome, Chris Mottram and Trei Brundrett from SB Nation, the guys from Blogstand Media, the writers at Spurs Report Project Spurs and Storming The Floor, and of course my two fellow comrades at Bloguin (Dave and Derek). I am leaving off a bunch of people but with so many free drinks and great new contacts its hard to list off everyone.
In Closing: The event was a huge success. It was fun, insightful, entertaining, and connected a whole hell of a lot of people that share a similar passion and vision. The topics were stimulating, the speakers were diverse and compelling, and the convention installed a sense of camaraderie and confidence amongst the attendees. The fact that so many big name players outside of our niche (GQ, Sportscenter, SI,Vayner Media) all got involved in some capacity was even further validation of what we’ve accomplished as well as the trajectory we are on. Pete was right on the money when saying that we are really changing the way sports are covered and that 5 years from now we’ll look back the inaugural BWB and recall some the great voices that helped bring about a whirlwind of change. Hopefully as Bloguin continues to grow/dominate the world, I’ll continue to have a role in that.