Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Brief SportzBroz History, with a Side of Title IX

By Adam Maher

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Two fun facts about TheSportzBroz.com:

1) Exactly none of our contributors went to school for convergence sports journalism (more commonly known as sports blogging) or sports management.

2) Not one of us had the pleasure (for lack of a better word) of playing D1 athletics, which therefore would have given our site some sort of first-hand perspective draw. (I might have only used that angle because I recently read Mark Titus' book, "Don't Put Me in, Coach" - which is a must-read and will only take you a few days to get through, even though it certainly does not lack disinteresting vulgarities, about two spoonfuls more than your doctor's recommended daily dose of pompous self-esteem boosting and good old-fashioned back in my day washed-up-athlete jive mixed with namedropping to make a buck - exactly what you'd expect from a D1 bench warmer turned best selling author, yes? It's actually a great book. Read it.)

Ergo, each post or column we've published since the first headline way back in November 2010 has been, essentially, a bonafide learning experience and, as the blog has maintained a steady breathing cycle on this here internuts, it has brought us in contact with lots of amazing people in real life. People who in fact did study journalism or sports management at a collegiate level, and in some cases, people who did not, but still had a strong understanding of sports journalism for what it is, what it should be, what they want it to be and what they want to do with it. These meetings and experiences both online and off have led our tightly-knit nationwide unit of sports-writing broz (and Mandos) to a unique and nuanced style that I'm so very proud of as we move into the future.

Having said that, today is a special day in SBz history. Since we first launched this glorious blog of sport, several themes and columns have been created. Some have been running for over a year now, ie. "Sportz Bro of the Day," and, "Hump Day Doppelgangerz." One other theme that was just as popular -- in fact more popular that the previously mentioned two combined -- but had to be scrapped for integral purposes of this blog came to be known as "Sportz Babe of the Week."

Each week whoever pitched me the idea and I would write a post that pointed out which female stood out in sports over that particular seven days. One week it was Rihanna for her NBA All-Star Game performance. Another week it was Cameron Diaz for stuffing pop corn in A-Rod's mouth at the Super Bowl. Another week it was the Panamanian Javelin thrower, Leryn Franco, just for being extremely hot. You get the picture.

So, even though "Sportz Babe of the Day" got lots of hits from both males and females and was indeed funny and light-hearted content, its message was not sitting right with the direction in which I wanted this blog to steer, so it had to be deceased.

I remember the revelation like it was yesterday. I had been discussing the legitimacy and logistics of cleaning up our blog's profanity and sexism for a few days with my father, who at the time refused to read the blog because of those reasons -- hi, dad -- about a year ago, when an old colleague of mine who shall remain nameless -- even though I wish I could tell you all about her (she's one of the most incredible people I'll ever meet) -- told me that she thought the Sportz Babe of the Day idea was downright sexist and offensive. I was taken aback and felt awful that my father and one of my favorite co-workers were both offended by content I was producing. A change had to be made right then and there. So I made the decision to cut cursing and sexism from the blog forever.

That afternoon, I began working with Miles, one of our original contributors, to overhaul and clean up the blog. We redacted any sentiment that might cause concern on this front and began building thesportzbroz.com's reputation as a knowledgeable site for any sports fan who was interested in digging for deeper opinions than what one might find on the traditional major networks, ESPN and of course, the boner sites. It took hours, and honestly, every once in a while when I revisit older posts, I find unnecessary profanity - but for the most part, Miles and I cleaned up the site pretty well that one afternoon.

Cursing and sexism were out. Intellectual op-ed was in.

Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to digress just for a moment. I have a personal anecdote from before thesportzbroz.com launched that I'd like to share about the website, BarStoolSports.com's feature, "Local Smoke Show of the Week," and how it pertained to my ultimate decision to cut sexism and profanity from our blog.

About three and a half years ago I was enjoying relations that today I consider to be the equivalent of what could have been the beginning of a fruitful relationship with the general consensus' hottest girl at the University of Vermont. I was a junior at the time, so was she. Anyone who went to school with me knows who I'm talking about. Seeing her naked was awesome and quite honestly may only be described by using the greatest adjectives and verbs known to humankind. Being with her at the bar was just as good. Crowds of people used to part ways like the Red Sea as Moses led his people out of Egypt when we made our way from the door bouncer to the taps. I remember multiple nights when multiple bros who I had never before seen or heard of in my life came up to me and literally asked for permission to shake my hand and congratulate me for somehow getting this girl to admit through words and actions to the general public that she was mentally and physically interested in me. I also remember saying, "Definitely not, bro, but thanks."

In all seriousness, I really liked this girl. And she liked me too. She even told me that she loved me one night when we were a bit too drunk. Caught me off guard. Lo and behold, it lasted for the semester, fizzled out over the summer and picked up a little bit at the outset of senior year - only to go down in flames as she would consistently call me, even though she was full on back with her boyfriend (according to her). I wasn't about to crowbar this girl's ex-boyfriend of eight years away from being with the girl of his dreams - plus, the fact that she cheated on him with me without either of us knowing the other existed (though, during the aftermath, one day she told me her "boyfriend" wanted to call me and get some answers - the punk never called) pretty much did her in. If I was still questioning his existence in her life by then, I surely wouldn't be after she called me his name in bed the last time we slept together. Robert Plant, I now know what you meant by "Dazed and Confused." I feel you, brother, always have and still do to this day. By the way, "Stairway to Heaven" was the second song my mother taught me how to play on guitar, right after "Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil.

Anyway, a few weeks after we stopped doing whatever it was that we did, this same girl hits me up and says, to paraphrase, "Something really weird happened to me this morning. This guy from some website called BarStoolSports sent me a facebook message asking for permission to make me Local Smoke Show of the Week. He wants me to send him any pictures of myself I'd be okay with him posting on their website....what should I do..it's weird."

Clearly for her, this topic fell under the "I don't want to ask my actual boyfriend but I still kind of like Adam cause he's smart, funny, attractive and all that so I'll ask him" category. Lucky for her, the new girl I had been "hanging out" with happened to had been a "Local Smoke Show" on BarStoolSports a month earlier. She told me to tell this girl that she had gone through the same experience with the same guy, and that she ended up giving the professional facebook creeper the OK, but it caused some weird feedback and in the end, she regretted it. Of course, I took the new girl's advice and told the old girl to not go through with it. Not only because I was against the idea in the first place for its absolute sexism, there was the fact that the old girl's initial reaction was that this facebook creep was weird as hell, and that this new girl who had gone through with it the month before all but begged me to tell her not to do it.

I know girls are insane when it comes to other girls who have been involved with the guy they are currently talking to, so, three years later, in complete retrospect, I've now finally thought up a few scenarios that could have played out in the new girl's mind that led her to tell me to tell the old girl not to sign the BarStoolSports facebook creeper guy's waiver to show her God given talent on his boner site so he could make his hand-lotion-toting editors happy.

1) The honest-nice-girl scenario: The new girl might've actually wanted to help the old girl because she had really felt weird about the whole thing and didn't want another girl, no matter who the girl was, but especially if that particular girl was at one time interested in me, the guy she likes, to feel the same way.

2) The attention-whore scenario scenario: The new girl told me to tell the old girl to not do it because she wanted to keep as much attention from this blog as she could for herself, especially because it was a girl I used to see that was asking about it.

3) The screw-both-of-you-for-still-talking-to-each-other-I-will-now-sabotage-your-relationship-forever scenario: The new girl gave me emasculating advice, so as to make me look weak as a man in the old girl's eyes. And if I chose to take that advice, I was already dead in the new girl's eyes for taking it.

Now remember, this was three years ago, and in all seriousness, both girl's are very nice - at least on the surface to someone who has completely no idea who they are. But I had to believe that the new girl went with scenario three, because come a week later, I'm no longer seeing either of the girls, as I find myself alone on the internet at 4 am on a Monday looking at both of them on BarStoolSports's "Local Smokeshow of the Week," proverbial jaw dropped.

But as I sit here typing, watching Mario Balotelli murder a bunch of Germans in soccer, I feel as though I'm better off not speaking to either girl. The first girl was no good because she cheated on her boyfriend, led me on to believe she was good and now has ended up with neither of us. "She's weird now," one of our old (now she's just mine) mutual friends who lives in the same city as her recently told me. The second girl to this day remains a great friend, but honestly, we could never work out. She needs herself a pro athlete, not a writer - unless he's 6-12, 250 and can string together Hemingway and Gellhorn off the top of the dome, while he's getting some.

The moral of the story is that porn, like drugs, at any level causes people to act in ways they usually would not, and god damn me if people don't like to stay up late and be entertained by both. And though outside of developing a knowledgable and lasting sports blog reputation I'm all for profanity and naked chicks mixed with drinking and whatever drug your heart so desires, inside said development, I am most certainly not. Sex and profanity has no place in sports, and therefor, no place on thesportzbroz.com.

But like I said, I've digressed.

After Miles and I cleaned up the blog, despite the fact that doing so would surely slow us down in terms of gaining hits (at the time, our blog's popularity was asymptoting), it would increase ten-fold our respective abilities as writers to enhance our sports personalities and professionalism. It's had great results, and though we're still working to expand our audience, as we should be, the quality of writing has been truly rewarding to be a part of.

I'm also happy to report that my dad has become a fan since we made the corrections. I should send my old co-worker an email (it'll be a year July 7th since I left the firm) to see if she's been keeping up. I'm sure she will enjoy this post.

And since we cut back on the Sportz Babe/profane writing, I'm also happy to report we really haven't had the urge to revisit the column. Once I realized it wasn't who we were as a blog, it pretty much lost its luster...

Until I found out about Cheyenne Woods and the near-perfect story that she's currently in the middle of.

For those of you who don't know, Tiger Woods has a niece who this spring graduated from Wake Forest and is now pursuing a career on the LPGA Tour. And if you can get over the fact that she looks a whole lot like her Father's younger brother, she's extremely pretty. Throw is the fact that she has won numerous youth amateur championships, state titles, an ACC Championship and just made her debut on the LPGA last week at the LPGA Championship (she missed the cut) and you have what most people like to call the total package.


The above picture is one of her current twitter pictures, which was taken at her recent photo shoot for an upcoming Golf Digest article.

A year ago, the title of this post might've been called, "Sportz Babe of the Week: Cheyenne Woods." It would have gotten a ton of hits, but belittled her status as an athlete. It might have also belittled the fact that Cheyenne, along with the legendary tennis star and womens rights advocate, Billie Jean King, recently toured the country's talk shows to promote the 40th anniversary of Title IX.


(L-R) Tracy Wolfson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Billie Jean King, Summer Sanders and Cheyenne Woods join Coca-Cola and NCAA to honor the 40th Anniversary of Title IX at Jazz at Lincoln Center on June 18, 2012 in New York City. Photo/caption pulled from Zimbio.

Title IX was ruled in 1972. If you want to really get a feel for what Billie Jean King meant to Title IX, read Robert Lipsyte's, "An Accidental Sportswriter." It's amazing stuff.

You might be wondering by now: what is the purpose of this post?

It's simple: be on the lookout for Cheyenne Woods. She's beautiful, brilliant and has a serious future in pro golf. Oh, and hey, she's not on BarStoolSports, so, her and I still have a chance! Unless of course, she has a boyfriend of eight years, which in all likelihood is the case.

The purpose of this post is also to demonstrate how happy I am with the blog's maturation as it relates to the female athlete, in honor of Title IX's 40th birthday.

So, in closing: Jason, Danny, Spencer, John, Conor, Marisa, Jake, Miles, Pete, Chris, Morgan, Schaef, Marley and everyone else who has liked facebook posts, retweeted tweets, commented, or read the blog: you guys all kill it. Let's keep killing it.

A

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