Like many students at the University of Utah, Sean Reynolds was intrigued when he first learned Jim Boylen had been hired as the newest men's basketball coach. But where it was merely an interesting news item for some fellow students, it meant a call to action for Reynolds.
With the little bit of spare time he had in between classes, he found a computer and posted the announcement of the hiring to Block U.com, his blog devoted to the Utes football and basketball teams. Reynolds followed later with several photos from the introductory press conference for Boylen.
For him, and other local sports fans, blogging about their team is not just a hobby. It has evolved into a full-time passion.
Reynolds uses whatever time he can find typing posts on U.-related topics well past midnight at times because he feels like he represents the fan's point of view.
"When I can do it from the perspective of a fan, I can get in there and tap into what so many readers are feeling," Reynolds said. "There is a lot of emotion because being a fan is tough at times."
The Internet age has brought an increased demand for news and information in practically every area of life. And nowhere have avenues opened up for an explosion of blogs quite like sports.
Like a snowflake, no two sports blogs are alike. Some serve as official team sources. Others are an extension of traditional media sources in print, radio and television.
But the vast majority of bloggers are like Reynolds fans who see the Internet as an outlet to express their passion and their opinion about their chosen team.
When Kris Loertscher started blogging about the Utah Jazz almost two years ago first as basketballjohn.com before rebranding as SLCDunk.com he did not have anything in mind beyond just sharing his thoughts about the Jazz. Loertscher was motivated in part by a dearth of up-to-date blogs on the team.
Since he started blogging, Loertscher has received positive feedback from Jazz fans who he says appreciate the little details he offers that don't always turn up in a newspaper article or TV sound bite.
"That's where blogs pick up (readers)," Loertscher said. "There's a lot more that can be said about games and a lot more that can be said about players that can't just be put in an article."
With the proliferation of upstart blogs in recent years, deciding what entities are granted media access is a stickier issue. Policies can differ from team to team as to how much access they will allow blogs to have with players and coaches.
The Utah Jazz, for example, will issue media credentials to legitimate bloggers during the Rocky Mountain Revue. But preseason, regular season and playoff games are typically restricted to traditional media.
Real Salt Lake allows the media and the public including bloggers into the majority of its training sessions. But determining who is granted media access after matches is subject to tighter scrutiny.
But more and more blogs nationally are making the jump from simply a fan site to a credible news source. AYL soccer, a site devoted to covering RSL soccer, has made such a transition on a local level.
AYL started as a fan blog during RSL's inaugural season. Since then it has grown to a staff of nine and evolved into a news site with video and audio interviews with players, game analysis and so forth. The blog has earned respect accorded to traditional media, with bloggers allowed access to players and coaches at every home game.
Jeremy Horton, one of AYL's main bloggers, said the good working relationship the site enjoys with Real's front office has helped it grow from its fan blog origins into a credible news resource.
"It makes all the difference," Horton said. "It gives us access to players and coaches. Without that, we would be just a bunch of people posting our opinions. But when we have access inside the team, we go a step beyond blogging."
Horton thinks sports blogs will continue to enjoy growth and vie for attention locally and nationally as long as they can show they are innovative and offer something beyond an uniformed rant."I've always thought to get a piece of the pie, you got to be unique in some ways," Horton said. "You got to find your own angle. You got to find your own thing. You got to give a reason for people to go to your site and not someone else's."
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