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The history of sports journalism on the internet

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SteveJRogers, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. SteveJRogers

    SteveJRogers New Member

    Hello, I'm working on a mega project that is about the history of sports journalism here on the World Wide Web.

    Essentially I'm trying to figure out who the pioneers are and more importantly are they still around, who's been out there the longest, besides ESPN, CBS SportsLine, Yahoo and CNNSI, I'm covering them, but I'm more interested in the unaffiliated sites and whatnot.

    As well, I'd like to make a timeline of sorts in terms of who was out there first, when did the next evolution of coverage hit (i.e. video casts, newspaper writers having to put up blogs to supplement the articles, etc).

    Any help is appreciated!
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    ESPN was undoubtedly the pioneer.

    For all intents and purposes, the World Wide Web went public in 1993, when it was made free to anyone and Mosaic launched a web browser. ESPN registered its domain name in 1994 and launched its website in 1995. That was the same year eBay and Craigslist launched, and two years before Yahoo! Mail was created.

    They were way ahead of most people in recognizing the power of the web.
  3. spud

    spud Member

    I know it came later, but Deadspin's launch in 2005 was a pretty big turning point in the history and perceived legitimacy of blogs.
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I remember discovering the Internet in college around 1996 or so. And ESPN was already there, with a lot of the same basic features they have today.
    CNNSI has also been around about as long. I love how some of the old domain names still work, like cnnsi.com (even though that network has been defunct for the better part of a decade and the "CNN" portion has long since gone by the wayside).

    And this in no way relates to sports journalism online, but if you'd like to see an archaic example of basic web design from 10 years ago, check out ddtdigest.com. It's a wrestling web site devoted to defunct wrestling company WCW (closed up shop in 2001). The guy who ran it in the late 1990s has kept it going as a museum of sorts for wrestling fans. But the design hasn't changed much, if at all, since he first started it in 1996. I think the most cutting edge innovation he ever did was adding some animated gifs.
    It's just weird to look at that site and think that every web site used to look like that. It's also funny to look at his FAQ and see people asking questions about the high-tech look of certain parts of the site.
  5. Corky Ramirez up on 94th St.

    Corky Ramirez up on 94th St. Well-Known Member

    For a while, espnet.sportszone.com (remember that?) also worked. Now it just goes to go.com
  6. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it used to be a real bitch trying to remember all that shit to type in when you just wanted to catch a score.
    I love the colleges that have changed their names but still work, too. Typing in www.nlu.com will still take you to Louisiana-Monroe's (formerly Northeast Louisiana) web site.
  7. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I was a 13-year old eighth grader in 1994 when I first got into the Internet. I would get on janky message boards on Prodigy and discuss baseball. At that time I don't remember seeing any sports journalism or content, though that doesn't mean it wasn't out there. I believe I found my first porn site around this time, too, but that's another thread.

    A couple of years later, probably 1996, I started looking at box scores through AOL, which I believe had a partnership with Stats, Inc. I'm sure this is all documented somewhere but this is all from memory.

    One of the first sites on the WWW I started looking at was CBSSports, which was just Sportsline.com back then. I don't remember how first heard about Sportsline but I remember thinking they were the industry leader in online sports back then. Not sure if it was their advertising through AOL or what it was, but I thought Sportsline was the standard. Not sure if that was accurate or not.
  8. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    As for unafflilated sites, someone from baseball-links.com might be able to help you. I remember this site being around in the mid 90s. Their job was knowing all of the sites out there, at least for baseball, and keeping an updated hub for all things hardball.

    I also remember ABC Sports having a huge presence through AOL in the mid 90s. You could download video, pictures and read articles through their AOL page.
  9. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    When a friend launched our site, Two Bills Drive, in 1996, very few newspapers and even fewer radio/TV stations had a presence on the Web. The proprietary services (AOL, Compuserve, et al.) had some of their own sports coverage, but I remember that it was a VERY big deal when AOL hooked up with The Sporting News. All of a sudden, I could read Caught On The Fly online. Whoa. And then, when I finally ventured out onto the wider Web, I discovered ESPN in all its Windows95-compatible glory.

    Should note that Bill Simmons was plying his trade with Digital City Boston, which also partnered with AOL. (He was funnier back then, because his teams weren't winning anything and he had plenty of targets. If you can find a copy of "The Tuna That Shagged Me," starring Bill Parcells and "Krafty Bob" ... quality stuff.) We were trying to provide most of our own Bills content, because while the Rochester D+C was trying to make some inroads, the BuffNews was still working out the details and the official team site was brutally bad.
    Not sure anyone here cares, but this is what we looked like then and now.

    And really, I'm writing merely to pimp http://www.archive.org/web/web.php, where you'll find each of those linked pages. Some more:
  10. JackS

    JackS Member

    ESPN was *not* the pioneer.

    The earliest two sites of any quality were Paul Allen's Starwave and the NandO Net Sportsserver from the Raleigh News and Observer. Those were the only two sites I bothered with in 1994.

    ESPN joined forces with Starwave pretty quickly though (early '95).
  11. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    Crap, I completely forgot about nando.net:
  12. Jim Tom Pinch

    Jim Tom Pinch Active Member

    Before Dan Wetzel was at CBS he was at a site called HoopsTV.com, which was ahead of its time.

    Wetzel was the first daily-type sports columnist to have legitimate recognition with out ever working full time at a daily paper. He'd be an interesting interview for this.

    I'm not a huge Bill Simmons fan by any stretch, but he more or less invented the sports blog with his Digital City Boston Blog that had a huge cult following and led to him exploding on ESPN.
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