The Nonexistent Fan Advocate's Dilemma

Andrew Feinsten pens a column for SB Nation about the identity crisis suffered by many bloggers in this ever-changing world of new media. Specifically: what is he?

It's an interesting piece, even if it reopens that tiresome debate about what you can and can't do as a cellar-dwelling blogger or diploma-toting journalist. Feinstein, proprietor of the popular Denver Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs, is more than just a normal fan with a rooting interest, especially when his opinion of the local sports franchise is being scrutinized more heavily than your average talk radio cretin. He goes to Nuggets games, he's had access to the team and his opinion or outlook becomes more circulated than that of the hometown paper on some occasions. But he doesn't work for the Denver Post, hence he's a "blogger." (And even though that moniker has become part of mainstream vernacular, it's deteriorated into even more of a dirty word than it was four years ago.)

Enter the "fan advocate":

Well aware of this Blogger's Dilemma, in November of last year SBNation founder and editor-in-chief Tyler Bleszinski sent around a group email to all the SBNation community editors with the subject line stating: "What would you like me to call you?" The gist of Tyler's email was that we should no longer label ourselves as "bloggers," as that moniker has a negative connotation with regards to getting press credentials from teams and leagues, but instead we should label ourselves as "editors" or "writers." From a strategic standpoint, I'm in agreement with Tyler here, although I'm not convinced that being labeled a blogger, again really a fan-as-columnist, is such a bad thing. And thus it was at that point I decided not to call myself "writer" nor "editor" nor "blogger," but instead have opted for "fan advocate". Because at the end of the day, that's what many of us are. We advocate on behalf of the average sports fan whose hard-earned money should be returned with an earnest effort on the hardwood, field, diamond, rink, inside the locker room and coaches' quarters and all the way up to the owner's office. Lest we forget that without our dollars and support, there are no multimillion dollar sports franchises.

That's fine and dandy and very Leitchian, but it also seems very antiquated, given that most of the internet-reading world does not, in fact, give a two-ton shit about the qualifications of who's doing the typing. Good stuff stands out — bad stuff stands out even more. If you're fighting for fan advocacy or writing thoughtful stories about Last Night's Big Game or compiling a listicle of athlete dong, you're putting something out there that will either be widely read by a vast audience or cruelly ignored, even if you've got your press credentials hanging around your neck or your fan advocate decoder ring on full display. Sadly, neither of those identities guarantees success anymore.

Now pardon me while I go scan the inbox for more screenshots of teenage girls at college basketball games.

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