Tuesday, March 25, 2008
A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
So I am splitting my Monday night experience at the Islanders-Pens game into two posts - the first being this one, on the Islanders Blog Box itself.
As I mentioned, the Islanders were gracious enough to give me a credential and allow me entry into the building, as well as a spot in the box. I managed to not wear a single item of clothing with the Rangers logo on it (quite the task, let me tell you) and I covered up the Rangers stickers on my laptop. I also replaced my usual wallpaper (which I shot myself on opening night) with this (where you couldn't see the bottom line thanks to the Macbook's dock.
I have to say that it is really a wonderful idea with pretty good positioning -- it is on the penalty box side of the ice in the Islanders end so you get a nice view of the ice and the benches. However, the way they shoehorned it into the space behind the lower bowl causes it to have some problems. It is only on a foot-high dais so if there is someone in the row directly in front of you, their head blocks a solid portion of the ice. It would pay to be higher, but at the same time a female blogger - Dee from Seventh Woman - had a bit of trouble to climb up so steps would be nice. I found it best to stand, which is fine with me as I usually stand for much of the Ranger games in the last row of the 300s. But still, when people in the row in front of you stand, you can't see a thing.
Speaking of the female blogger - there were nine seats but just three other writers sitting there. I am not trying to make a joke here, but the Islanders can't give away free seats? Could you imagine the line of writers who would be at the Garden? There was another blogger there who sat in his season ticket seat (Mike from Isles Blogger), but that brings up the point that teams don't really need to give free spots away to passionate fans/bloggers - we go anyway. If the Rangers gave me a free seat to blog, they could lose the $2,200 I pay for my season ticket ... and why would they do that?
But in the case of the Islanders (and the Capitals and other teams with attendance/marketing/coverage problems) I really do think that it is a great way to get more eyes on their team. The writers there are passionate and care about their team - a far cry from the bored beat writers who may or may not show up to every game. It is also a little weird to hear cheering from other writers. After covering sporting events in the past as MSM, I had been used to a quiet (bitter, annoyed) press row but this was a great change.
And after the game we were allowed to go down to the locker room to participate in some interviews - Ted Nolan, Dubi and Sean Bergenheim all spoke. This again brings up a debate on bloggers: are we fans who act like media, or are we fans who act like fans? Basically, do you play it straight or do you ask the burning questions? I played it straight, asking a legit question to Dubi about how he prepares for the games behind all of these kids (no change, just hope they don't relent in the third period). But as a fan, I would have asked what was wrong with his stick as he lost it three times during play (and no teammates gave him theirs - for shame).
But for all of the nitpicking, and for all of the debates that it brings up, the Blog Box really is a great thing, not only for the Islanders but for the sport as well in that it brings the fans even closer to the action. I am very thankful to the Islanders, in particular VP of Media Relations Chris Botta and VP of Communications Josh Bernstein, for the opportunity.