You don’t have to be a veteran of the blogosphere to know that one of sports bloggers favorite pastimes is ripping on ESPN. Sure, I’ve taken a few shots at the Worldwide Leader over time — their prevalence in the lives of sports enthusiasts makes it hard not to. And I do believe that us blogs serve an excellent role in keeping ESPN accountable considering their relative lack of competition. But here’s one problem I have. Many of the same bloggers and blogs that criticize ESPN are not only lazy, but they’re also hypocritical. Check out the chart below that I made based on some data the creator of Ballhype, Jason, was kind enough to send me:
If you check the count of most linked to sites in the last 90 days, ESPN dwarfs everyone else. It’s not even funny. But you know what that means? It means that despite all the bashing, complaining, and criticism, the site still remains a favorite amongst bloggers.
I first started to notice this trend the more I used Ballhype, which is a must-use site for all sports bloggers. It amazes me how AP stories can hit the wire making them available on almost every single sports site on the web, yet bloggers will choose to link to the ESPN version. It amazes me how AP game recaps can be produced for all the major sports sites, yet bloggers will choose to link to the ESPN version.
For the most part, I will link to ESPN’s website under two circumstances. One, when they have an exclusive story or broke news first. The second is when I’m looking up an old story, because ESPN has incredible online archives and googles really well. The rest of the time, I’ll just go find the local version of the news story or game recap, because they almost always have more information, more details, and more quotes from people involved in the story. Sometimes I admit, I’ll just use the AP version of a story, but then I’ll mix up which major site I’ll pull it from. Sometimes I’ll use ESPN’s version, sometimes SI’s, sometimes Foxsports.com’s, sometimes Sportslines, and sometimes AOL Sports’ version.
So here’s my question to bloggers: if you dislike ESPN so much, then why do you constantly link to their website? Why do you make it your first stop for generic stories? If they have an exclusive, then by all means, link to them. But if it’s the exact same story you can find on any sports site, then why don’t you grab it from a different site for a change?
Well, if your answer is because it’s just easy and you prefer ESPN.com, then don’t complain about their omnipresence. But if you don’t have a good answer, then why don’t you take a cue and start linking out to other sites? Who knows, you might wind up finding a new site you’ve never been to before and enjoy it. This is a free internet for the most part, why limit yourself to one place for sports info on the web? It just makes no sense.
Thanks once again to Jason from Ballhype for providing the data.
UPDATE: Per Jamie in the comments, this is the top 10 most linked to Mainstream sites (True Hoop and Hashmarks are not included in espn.com’s rankings), which leads me to believe that anything from FanHouse was not included in these stats either.Google+