Before the lockout began, we profiled the change that would take place on NBA Web sites. The conditions of the lockout commanded that league Web sites take down almost all references to players especially photos. All contact and mention of players were gone in an instant Friday night.
What greeted basketball fans on NBA.com at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 was a bare-bones Web site with an announcement and release about the lockout and some information about the WNBA. This was the first glimpse into the dark world of the lockout.
We are not even a week in and the feeling is this will get worse before it gets better. Much much worse.
The question is how will the NBA cover itself?
We have seen this transition begin in several sports. Rather than rely on traditional media, teams themselves have hired reporters to provide content for their sites covering games and writing features. They are trying to cut out the middle man of the traditional media and control their message. From a public relations standpoint, it is a brilliant move.
However when things go wrong, it is tough to write negatively about the team that pays you.
Many Web sites are going with the fluff pieces, filling their Web space with cheerleader/dancer and mascot outings and charity work. As long as players are not mentioned or appear in any pictures, the content remains allowable.
“Check out any team’s website, including the Thunder’s, and you’ll see that dance teams have taken over,” Jenni Karlson of The Oklahoman writes. “Tryouts. Camps. Trips. All of it is front-page news these days. And the teams that don’t have their dance teams front and center instead feature mascots or coaches or stoic pictures of NBA Commissioner David Stern. I mean, I love mascots as much as the next gal, but is this the kind of NBA world we want to live in?”
This is indeed the world we are forced to live in right now. The only player mentioned on the Thunder’s Web site Tuesday night was retired player Grant Long at a basketball camp. And the photo has his back turned toward the camera. These are the times we are living in for sure.
Those Web sites will get creative in filling content in the meantime.
But the one thing you probably will not see on team Web sites is coverage of the lockout itself. Most teams are leaving that to the NBA’s Web site which still features the same Hang Time blog and reporting of David Aldridge to provide updates. But on the NBA’s other media outlet, NBATV, you are not really seeing much lockout coverage. The whole weekend was spent replaying old slam dunk contests.
As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel pointed out, you are not exactly going to NBA.com or NBATV for breaking lockout news whereas NFL Network and several NFL Web sites have some coverage on the lockout. And, more importantly for content, photos and mentions of players.
Maybe it is too early to expect much lockout coverage from the NBA itself. After releasing a bare bones Web site at midnight on Friday, the league has beefed up its Web site a little bit. It is still pretty basic and no video of players is present. You can definitely still tell a lockout is going on.
There is not much to report on as there have been no bargaining sessions since the lockout began. Still, if this is the type of coverage we can expect to see as this thing continues, expect fans to tune out these Web sites.
Photo via DayLife.com.