So it looks like newly-minted civilian Derek Jeter has decided to enter the exciting and lucrative realm of blogging. In the very least it should do wonders for the old cliche of all bloggers being creepy loners that live in their mother's basements. (Hey, I'm not that creepy) It's just another example in what has been a rapidly changing relationship between athletes, the media, and the fans. How much of this was Jeter's creation is hard to say, but he's long had a frosty (if polite) relationship with media members and the idea could very easily have been the genesis of years of carefully dodging questions that could be used against him by a ravenous New York media. Sure, he's also benefitted from outlets that treated him with almost laughable reverence, but even then why rely on those sources when you can create your own vehicle to convey your thoughts and opinions?
The site has already had its first contribution from Super Bowl winner and Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. It's kind of humorous how many of the "Jeter Boxes" that a choice like Wilson checks off: championship winner, exceedingly popular, free of character issues and articulate. You wonder if your resume has to include "Champion" to even be considered. The piece itself is at least mildly interesting, as it discusses the NFL's domestic violence issues and Russell's own past as a self-described "bully." It's the sort of story you could see coming up in a Sportscenter "Sunday Conversation" or a polite "60 Minutes" interview. Somewhat revealing, but ultimately calculated and constructed with purpose. I'm pretty confident in saying that not a lot of controversial stories are going to be coming from "The Players' Tribune."
Which is why it eliciting a sarcastic and petulant article from "Old Media" buzzard Mike Lupica was so incredibly amusing. It was a piece seemingly born of both annoyance at Jeter's history of stonewalling the media and his daring to become a "member" of that media. Lupica really need not worry about Jeter's site trying to render his job obsolete or becoming a coveted source of news, as social networks, like Twitter, have done more than some website housing the sterilized thoughts of selected athletes ever could. You're not going to get a direct view into the sports world via a carefully worded essay like you would a player's rambling thoughts after a tough day at work on their personal Twitter account. That's where the reporter has been edged out: choice and controversial quotes from athletes no longer need to be recorded or witnessed in person. Basically Lupica is making far more out of it than he need be.
Mostly I think Jeter's new site is just another action from an incredibly shrewd businessman. Fans that are naturally distrustful of the media may flock to a site that features the "untwisted" words of their favorite athletes. While it may not be ad-supported or require a subscription, a site like this could still prove lucrative do by helping to build players' brands and their connection with their fans. As you can tell, I have more of a skeptic's view on what the actual goal of the venture is, but it is still of some significance in that the dissemination of information is now being totally controlled by the athlete (and likely their publicist). I don't think it's sinister by any means, and might even be entertaining on occasion, but I just wouldn't necessarily use the information within as a trusted source. After the recent eras where media members became stars, it seems stars can just as easily become media members. I just don't find myself any more trusting of the motivations of the new guys than the old ones like Lupica.