On “Sabre Summit” and blogging
This post is overdue, but definitely necessary.
Last week, the Buffalo Sabres held their first “Sabre Summit”, a discussion between Ted Black, Kevin Sylvester and a group of Sabres bloggers selected by the organization.
I’ll disclose that 3MI was not invited to participate, with indications being that the reason why being that I do not live in the area. Even if invited, work obligations would’ve prevented me from attending, so that’s acceptable, even though I’d never expect an invite. Would I be open to attending in the future? Sure. What fan would turn down an opportunity to sit down with the man who runs your team?
The attendees did a great job covering what was discussed. Recaps from Goose’s Roost, Hockey Rhetoric, Top Shelf, and Black & Blue & Gold (amongst others) were very interesting. It’s endearing to see the organization embrace the medium at last. One of the topics covered was the subject of credentials for bloggers and press box access. There’s a whole can of worms to worry about when it comes to credentials. Who deserves access? How do you judge that?
Sure, anyone can start a blog. That’s the beauty of the whole thing. But what makes a blog valuable is something more than just writing one. It takes an effort to stay current, thought-provoking content, and most importantly, a passion for doing it.
I can speak truthfully when I say that our Sabres blogging community is carried by a group of extremely intelligent, passionate, and thankfully sane individuals. These people who maintain their sites get more joy out of producing content than anyone can possibly get by reading it. It’s an outlet. It’s therapy.
We’re not professionals. Most of us have jobs, school or other obligations that we have to tend to as well. Sometimes that can get in the way, in my case, much more than I’d like. Is it better that we are doing this out of love and not necessity? We’re writers, we’re sports writers, but we certainly aren’t cranky sports writers who have to worry about deadlines or get to complain about their perilous travel experiences. We’re just fans, but I say that in a positive way. We care.
That’s a good thing. While real professional journalists have to provide the basic content necessary for their jobs, bloggers fill in the rest. Whether it’s adding in the details, obsessing over minutiae, or calling out mistakes, there’s no fear of jeopardizing access for the blog nation at this point.
Without access, bloggers rely on secondhand information, which can lead to speculation. We’re reactionary by nature because of this. If there’s a direct line, would that open up the organization a bit more when it comes to information? I think so. Being a fan, your mind thinks a little differently.
So, with a good part of the discussion at the “Summit” focused on credentialing bloggers, it’s a very gray area. The pros are going to say that bloggers shouldn’t get access, because there’s no room for fans. Yes, that is a legit concern in the locker room.
Personally, I don’t think locker room access is as important of a step for bloggers as access to the organization. Instead of spending our time wondering about why certain things are done a certain way or what happened to a player or anything of the sort, if we have an open door to ask that question, it can change what our blogs can contribute. In a good way, we can put pressure on the organization and the local media to be better at what they do. When is that ever a bad thing?
I worry that the organization, which in previous regimes has been extremely petty and insecure about what gets said about them, might give us bloggers a shot and back away if it doesn’t go how they want it to. Our community is on the whole a very positive minded one, but if things aren’t going well, will the team accept criticism? When they have control, that’s always a concern, especially when the Chris Botta-Islanders fiasco is still hanging over the league’s relationship with new media.
When it comes to this blog, access is not going to make or break my desire to do this. In ways, I almost prefer being a fan at times, experiencing a game amongst my peers and influencing my opinions. I don’t worry about not being able to do it if the team doesn’t like what I say, which is the case at times. I’d like to assume that if I’m up in the press box one night, and watching the game from my seats the next, I’m still going to do exactly what I do. I’m still making roadtrips with my friends. I’m still gonna say the music at games sucks until it doesn’t.
But being able to talk directly with the organization and/or players could provide insight that I can’t get from the 300 level, and that’s the intriguing part of this. Instead of writing a post like I did last year about how come the team doesn’t do team awards, I can ask Ted Black why they don’t instead of speaking without an answer from the HSBC Arena offices. I can still write about it, have my opinion, but I’d also have an answer and a defense from the team.
It’s not a one-sided perspective and I think that’s a good thing for both sides. The organization can get as much out of this as the blogging community could.
We’ll see what happens. If they’re asking what we think, we have our own answers. As bloggers, all we want is the opportunity to ask our own questions.