Yesterday, your intrepid LacrosseAllStars Co-Founders found themselves in a dark basement filled with a bunch of generally white guys between the ages of 20 and 40. Was it an AA meeting? Not this time…and our underground fight club meets on Thursday nights so that could only mean one thing…
Saturday was the much anticipated 1st ever “Blogs With Balls” extravaganza. We spent the day doing 2 of our favorite things: talking sports and chugging Guinness. Sports bloggers and mainstream media honchos from all lacrosse the nation came together to discuss the future of sports media.
The location fit the bill for your “living in your mom’s basement” blogger stereotype which made the event all the more entertaining. Where else are you going to get the chance to hear Bethleham Shoals (Free Darko, The Sporting Blog) get heated with Jeff Pearlman (Author, SI.com columnist) while simultaneously hearing 4 or 5 beer glasses shatter in the background, then see Gary V drop truth bombs on an army of middle-aged men, and finally hit up an after party sponsored by GQ and hosted by cute girls in silver wigs passing out/trying to shove vodka tequila shots down your throat? Exactly. This, my friends, was sports culture at its finest.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DAY:
- To kick off the event, Striding Man’s former co-worker and favorite writer Peter King stopped by to say hello (virtually at least). SI.com was a sponsor and it was cool that they got King involved. Here’s the intro video he did:
- The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Jimmy Traina of SI.com’s Hot Clicks was also in attendance. When he links to your site, word is you pretty much get hit by a tidal wave (Update: lesson learned)
- I quickly realized that we were the only representatives for lacrosse at the event. The crowd was mainly full of NBA, NFL, or MLB bloggers but we were feeling way better about ourselves when a guy in a floppy sun hat declared that he was a cricket blogger. Now that’s a wicked googly.
- Putting faces to some of the sports blogging gods helped me understand each site a little better. One highlight was hearing from AJ Daulerio, editor of Deadspin. He was pretty quiet on the panel, but every time he talked the buzz in the room would die down and people ate up every word… the guy was revered at BwB like he was the Crown Prince of Blogging (and rightfully so). All hail the holy Deadspin. In the name of the Leitch, the Daulerio and the holy DUAN. Amen.
- Jeff Pearlman is one of my favorite writers on the planet and “Boys Will Be Boys” is damn near the top of my list of best sports books. On his panel Pearlman oozed “I’m a professional writer not just a whack-o with a wordpress ” and deep down I kinda wanted to resent that…but in truth he really seemed like a cool guy (I would kill to be that talented). However, the race was between him and Amy Nelson from ESPN to pull a Buzz Bissenger on us. Sadly (or thankfully I’m not sure which) we didn’t get there.
- The event was sponsored by Guinness and at 1pm the waitresses started walking around begging you to take a free pint off their overloaded trays. I learned a valuable life lesson two years ago when I visited the Guinness factory in Dublin: a day of drinking only Guinness and eating sliders does terrible things to your digestive system. Being a blogger isn’t for the weak.
- Many of the panels dealt with suggestions on how to make your site better. Things like Google Analytics and finding a partner to work with are just two examples of tips tossed around. Biggest take away? LacrosseAllStars is on the right track, baby. Not that we were worried, but affirmation is never a bad thing. Striding Man, Rusty, Wheniwaskid, Joenandez, yours truly … LaxNation is in good hands.
- Blogging characters that I didn’t know by name but am making a point to follow: Bethleham Shoals from Free Darko. He was the voice of reason for most of the day and was so exasperated by the “Why We Hate You: The Media’s Take” discussion that many of his responses included a face like he just bit into a lemon followed by a sigh and then just passing the microphone off to someone else. Sometimes you just can’t convince people that the ‘MSM v. bloggers’ battle royal is just BS. Also, Spencer Hall from EDSBS Blog was wearing a white suit that screamed “look at me!” and backed it up because he was by far the funniest panelist.
- Keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk knew his audience when he took the stage. When he wasn’t explaining his backstory (read it here), he was telling us to “F%cking CRUSH it!” and explaining his vision of getting rich enough to buy the Jets. His personality may come off a little strong, but I really enjoyed the guy.Here’s some bootlegged footage for your viewing pleasure:
Overall it was a great experience and networking with other bloggers at the afterparty was a trip. We had some great talks with Daddy’s Sugar Ball (the name is a Simpson’s reference and we were friends right away), Real Clear Sports, the whole GoGameFace crew, and Josh from The Sports Business Exchange. It’s definitely worth your time to check them out.
Update: Follow the #BlogswithBalls twitter conversation right here and see what the bloggers had to say before, during, and after the event. (Warning: to get the full experience you might want to imagine the tweets from the afterparty said in a drunken/slurring voice. Free whiskey and tequila shots will do that to you)