Recently, I was tossing around the idea of Bleacher Report expanding and becoming the number one source for sports information, coverage, and editorials on the web. It isn't out of the question—just look at the makeup of the site...
- Legitimate fans of the sports, passionate about their teams, the integrity of the game, and the pursuit of intelligent conversation and coverage...
- Plenty of young, inspired writers, most of them hoping to pursue a career in sports journalism through any of the countless specialty areas...
- Experts on so many different sports, and areas of those sports. Just in college football, you have the die-hards of nearly every team and conference. Every facet of the game seems to be covered here by a writer with amazing insight into the subject.
Of course, the site isn't perfect, and that is understandable. There are writers who are too passionate, perhaps to the point of them not being taken seriously by their target audience, but that shows their loyalty. The die-hards are what make this site so good for conversation and debate.
The setup of the site is clean and easy to navigate, which is definitely a plus. It's possible for the highest rated writers' work to be seen more easily by the masses. The tags make it easy to find articles pertaining to your team or conference, and make it so your articles are found by the audience you'd like them to be seen by.
Another plus is the fact the placement articles receive in Google searches. It seems they all pop up on the first page when I search for something. That is a very valuable asset BR has in their back pocket. That in itself should lure more writers to the site as time passes.
To get away from the praise (I would hate to give everyone TOO big of a head, haha), let me get to a couple of ideas that could be implemented in the future to perhaps improve and spread the site out...
Bleacher Report Fantasy Sports
BR may not be at the point, membership wise, to make fantasy sports a possibility, but it could be an idea to consider in the future depending on the site's growth. The convenience of it could do a lot to recruit people.
I visit this site much more than I visit Yahoo or ESPN (which loads terribly slowly on my computer, for the record), which would make it a much more suitable choice for myself, especially seeing as how the Yahoo and ESPN formats are getting a bit boring to me.
True, it would take a lot of extra work to set up, and it wouldn't bring revenue directly, but I am wondering if anyone has broached the subject. An eye-catching format, in essence, could cause a stir in the fantasy sports world.
Bleacher Report Message Boards
True, the discussions on articles could be viewed as a message board as themselves. BUT, there have been many times in the past where I just wanted input on a subject and didn't want to have to write an article to get opinions. Not to mention, it is hard for new writers to have their work read in the beginning, making it hard for them to rise in the rankings.
Perhaps the message boards could be added in each conference page, or team page, making it easy for fans of the same team to share information more easily. A central boards with the subdivisions of the conferences and perhaps teams could also work.
After all, the heated debates and discussions are what keep a lot of us here. Why not expand the possibilities?
New Writer Spotlights
On first registering for this site, I thought I wrote a clever, unique, splendid piece of work, and it went relatively unnoticed. I finally got one of my articles read, but I still had trouble getting my work out there.
There are rankings for the best writers on the site—perhaps it would be possible to do the same thing for new members. After all, the site is supposed to encourage you to improve your work by learning from piece-to-piece... That is quite difficult when nobody reads your earliest works.
Enable new additions to the community to gain exposure more easily before they become disheartened.
Increasing the Recruiting Effort
I'm unsure of what it would take to increase traffic drastically to the site, but there must be something out there. After all, BR caters to a very passionate crowd (sports fans) that is always willing to engage in discussion, regardless of the other party in the debate.
No longer do people have to settle for the same limited, repetitive, at times ignorant, and dispassionate sports coverage that ESPN and other large-scale media sources release. We have legitimate fans who know the game, and who want to get their work read, just as much as the public wants new opinions.
Further Categorizing Of Articles
It is a great feature to be able to tag your story to a specific conference, team, player, etc., not to mention being able to label it as an editorial, recap, humor piece, and so forth. But perhaps after an article loses a bit of its immediate relevance, you could file it under another, more specific category.
Perhaps after a certain game, let's say between LSU and Florida, a few weeks later you could go to the LSU or Florida team page and be able to click a single link to be taken to all of the articles recapping that game. The same could apply with profiles of a single player and so forth, ranking them so you can pick the best of the bunch.
There are so many articles about the same thing sometimes, it is ridiculous. This will make it easier to navigate.
Quick Recap of Every Game of the Week
Before the games begin for the week, choose a single user to cover one game and publish a short write-up pertaining to their one game. At the end of the week, gather up all of the works by the authors and publish it into one article.
I understand that people do that for fun in their own articles, but so many of those times, they try to give coverage on a game that they did not watch, nor really care about.
Bleacher Report Player and/or Game of the Week
AT&T has their player of the week that the nation votes on—why doesn't BR vote on their player and/or game of the week? I imagine that this site will have a wonderful take on the Heisman when that time comes around. Who is to say that we can't start that right now? Weekly Heisman polls...we do it for the top 25, after all.
Personalized Journalistic Mentoring
It is obvious that there are superb writers on the site, and there are plenty of writers working to improve every week. Yes, I know that plenty of the senior writers give their input every week to help those writers improve, but sometimes it isn't enough.
The editing and suggestions from those editors are a lifesaver to a lot of writers, but it seems as if there aren't enough of them out there. For the newcomers, being able to go to one person for advice could go a long way toward improving the overall community and level of work published on the site.
Article Vs. Article Debates
This is something that could be done without the site's blessing: just two writers approaching a topic and stating their opinion in an article of their own, to be voted on or just read by a panel of judges, or just the general public.
The passion of the writers on this site is spectacular, as you can tell by the article increase since the announcement of the B/RCS contest. The debates that could be approached by two different writers with varying opinions could be fantastic. Perhaps one writer could argue for the playoff system, and one against it, each giving his or her take.
The best quarterback in the Big 12? The best CFB team in the last 10 years? The possibility for one on one debates is endless!
Those are a few of my ideas on how to improve the site for the time being. This is in no way saying that the site isn't stellar at this very moment—I'm sure just like the writers of their community, the founders of Bleacher Report would love to improve and master their pieces of work...
Who knows? Perhaps by this time next season, BR will eclipse ESPN as the worldwide leader in sports coverage. The possibilities really are endless as long as sports continue to enthrall us and inspire our passion to write...