I know all of you were worried sick, but don’t fear. Blogger Roundtable is back! This week we caught up with Dan Fogarty, senior editor at SportsGrid, a blog that chronicles everything from sports-media gaffes and embarrassing moments, to the best national-anthem singers, to drama in the sumo-wrestling world. Oh, and they cover actual games too.
If something important happens in the sports world, it’ll be up on SportsGrid as fast as anywhere else. Part of the huge Mediaite network, SportsGrid also features the massive Power Grid, an aggregation, ranking different sports figures based on how often their names are being mentioned in the media.
Fogarty, 23 and a native New Yorker, took some time to answer a few of our questions:
How did SportsGrid start? How did you become a part of it?
My job with SportsGrid started in November of 2009. I was hired at the same time as Glenn Davis, who has since become my partner in crime. He’s also one of the best and most thoughtful sports bloggers there is.
Our original purpose was to compile stats for our massive launch feature, the Power Grid (our ranking system for players and media). Compiling all of that data was ridiculous. Many hours were spent in front of a huge Excel spreadsheet, entering really specific data about sports people (did you know that Manu Ginobli has 425,009 Twitter followers? Because I do).
Finally, SportsGrid launched in May of 2010 to good reviews and great traffic. Although the days (and nights) right before the launch were some of the most stressful, frustrating, but also exhilarating of my life. All of us were crammed in our office, pulling consecutive all-nighters to make sure this massive project launched on time.
Since the start, traffic has steadily increased, we’ve been linked to or acknowledged by some of the best people who do this, and we’re in the midst of having our most successful month ever. So I’m excited.
There are a ton of different sports blogs out there. What sets SportsGrid apart?
The Power Grid is what got us in the door. That’s what gave us a ticket to ride and saved us from everyone on the Internet going, “Oh no, another sports blog?” If we had started just with a bunch of stories and videos, I believe it would have been tougher for us to break in. The Power Grid has given us time to start carving out our spot.
Since then, as our focus has shifted from the Power Grid to our posts, we’ve been able to start defining who we are. I think there’s room for us to start doing more of what Mediaite does with the cable news networks. Whereas they cover the craziness that is Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, our bag is covering crazy moments in sports media. I think there’s a real market for that: people don’t just want coverage from ESPN anymore. They also want coverage of ESPN.
In a nutshell, what I want SportsGrid to become (and what it is becoming) is a media-obsessed, politically conscious site where sports fans come to argue. The media stories and politically charged stuff is there, and now the arguing is beginning to pick up as well.
If you can get paid to do this, why not? Essentially, my job is to make observations about sports, so long as they’re mildly interesting or funny. I can work from my home, in the nude, and no one would know a thing. Yes, I’m talking about naked sportswriting. Wait, what?
I know a ton of people who don’t enjoy what they do. Any time you ask them how work is, they can’t wait to change the subject. On the other hand, I like talking about my job.
I can’t say enough how crazy it is that I get paid for this. Growing up, I used to listen to “Mike and the Mad Dog” (New York sports radio) in the car with my dad and think it was funny how these guys, as opinionated as they were, got paid to sit around and talk about sports. Now, that’s kind of what I do, except I type instead of talk. Weird.
Is there a specific post you’re most proud of? Or maybe one that helps to represent what SportsGrid is all about?
The “10 Biggest Sports Media Gaffes” series was great, both in the response it got and the amount of traffic it drew. That’s probably something that most exemplifies what it is we’re aiming for.
There’s always the extremely divisive, politically charged posts. That’s when the real psychos come out in the comments section. Those are always interesting.
What’s been the biggest challenge of running a blog?
I think it’s all of the different hats you have to wear. You’re essentially an editor, writer, and marketing department all rolled into one. It’s exhausting and rewarding all at the same time.
I also think the weird hours are tough for some people. If something happens on a Sunday at 7 p.m., you have to be around to post about it. That’s what happened with Bart Scott’s crazy rant after the Patriots game: he gave this postgame interview where he called out an ESPN guy for picking against the Jets (and was screaming like a pro wrestler the whole time). As soon as I saw it, I knew we needed to get it up on SportsGrid. So while I’d much rather be at a bar or a friend’s house watching the Jets game on Sunday, I’ll probably be parked in front of my computer, nerding out in the event that something crazy happens.
What do you see for SportsGrid going forward? What goals do you have for the future?
I see our comment section really growing. That’s really the lifeblood of any good sports section: a smart, dedicated, batshit-crazy comment section. That’s what’s going to take us to the next level.
What do you see for the future of blogging in general?
The lines becoming blurrier and blurrier between what’s considered “traditional” news, and what’s only reported on blogs. The video of a slurring Jerry Jones in some bar in Dallas is a good example. You can’t tell me that two years ago that would have made it onto ESPN. They wouldn’t have touched it.
I also think the length of time between something being reported on a blog and then being shown on SportsCenter is getting smaller and smaller. It used to be (and when I say “used to be,” I mean “a few months ago”) that when something big happened on a sports blog, there would be a period of a few weeks where all of the major media outlets kind of sat around and looked at each other, and waited to report on it. And then one of them would, and that would be the green light for everybody.
Now, it’s not a few weeks. Depending on how sensational the story is, it could be a few hours, or even a few minutes. Blogs are breaking news and (the good ones) are gaining the respect of bigger media outlets.
Honestly, how do you view our blog? What and whom do you feel we represent?
I think my problem with “male advice”–type pieces in other blogs or magazine has always been that it feels like I’m being talked down to, like the most perfect gentleman ever took a break from sipping scotch and killing bears to tell me how to tie a tie. It’s like, dude, I know you’re not perfect either. So don’t pretend you’re blessing me with the Rosetta Stone of guy code or something. But you guys don’t do any of that—the pieces aren’t pretentious, and a lot more organic.