Had an excellent time last night at Waiting for Next Year’s gathering at Canal Park.
The night offered up the chance to meet several members of the WFNY staff, as well as Peter from Cleveland Frowns (turns out we have a mutual friend) and several others.
While it was great to meet everyone – and the 20-ounce Leinenkugels were perfect on a hot summer night (draft beer is truly one of life’s little pleasures) – even better was the opportunity to sit and talk with fellow Cleveland fans about why they write.
We had good conversations with Rick from WFNY and with Frowns about why they started their respective sites. It’s interesting that none of the founders of WFNY or Frowns himself ever aspired to be sports writers, but still gravitated to writing because they had something to say and were willing to put their opinions out there.
Sites like Cleveland Frowns, WFNY, The DiaTribe, Ten Cent Beers, RiverBurn (and this one), among others, are all working to make sure the voice of the fan is heard like never before. We are all working, in our own way, to give Cleveland what it needs, rather than something it already has.
And, just as importantly, this group is doing it without any hysterics. It has always drove us batty when we hear people ripping a particular player and then concluding that the player should be traded for a superstar. You won’t find that kind of irrational thought at most of the local sites, which is refreshing.
Rick pointed out that everyone at WFNY has a different style and brings different perspectives to the table. And you can see that applies to everyone else within the community. Frowns certainly has a unique voice, and The DiaTribe is a textbook example of quality over quantity. In their own way, everyone brings something beneficial to the discussion.
During our conversations the point was made that, as recently as 10 years ago, the only way you could be heard as a fan was to wait on hold for two hours so you could have 30 seconds with someone like Greg Brinda. (How depressing is that?)
Now those days are over and everyone – from the teams to the fans – are better off for it.
Rick talked about how front-office people from the local teams read WFNY to learn what fans are saying; Frowns talked about similar experiences with his site. If the teams are reading the sites, that only strengthens the message that the writers and the fans are delivering.
Plus, the more voices that are being heard the better – especially in a one-newspaper town like Cleveland. There is little doubt that the appetite for news about the local teams is enormous, which means there is plenty of room at the table for everyone to share an opinion.
We’re not as hard on the local beat writers as some – primarily because we used to be in the business – but if someone were to only receive their news about the Cavs, Indians and Browns from The Plain Dealer or WKNR, they would walk away with a perspective that is often not in touch with how fans really feel.
But with so many sites available comes a wide variety of opinions and, even if you sometimes disagree, the fact that so many people are talking and investing the time it takes to maintain a site shows the passion of Cleveland’s sports fans.
We’re definitely glad we decided to take a seat at the table.