The Online Athlete

Throughout this site you can find different perspectives on the official sites of teams and leagues. Journalistically speaking, many of these official sites are somewhat lacking. So if these sites lack depth, what about big99.com? That site, of course, belongs to Warren Sapp, the defensive tackle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's safe to assume the official Web sites of athletes are designed without any kind of notion of providing both sides of the story. Sapp's site won't detail why he missed a practice and then was subsequently benched.

But, these sites do in fact provide something unique to the sports world. A fan can read an online diary from Jamal Anderson, who describes his recovery from knee surgery. In fact, at jamalanderson.com, fans can leave questions for Jamal, or listen to some of his recent answers to others.

When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young retired from the NFL in June, his site had "exclusives" other sites supposedly didn't have. Some of the features included an interview with Young directed toward fans visiting the site, along with other interviews, videos, pictures and retrospectives about his career.

Athletesdirect.com is a site that serves as the home to many pro athletes, nearly 300 total. The site has a partnership with eBay, allowing athletes to also put sports memorabilia up for bidding. What is the connection between an athlete's official site and league or team sites? Like many sites of similar nature, they are actually in competition. As Shaquille O'Neal's agent, Leonard Amato, says,

"The balance of power in an interactive economy is dramatically shifting and as the power shifts, it's moving closer to the source of content."

That issue of control has now become an issue in the collective bargaining agreement in professional leagues. The NFL Players Association and NFL Players Inc, have asked a United State District Court judge to break up athletesdirect.com and prevent the site from aligning with future players. With all of the work being spent on league sites, the fear is that star player sites will detract and move fans away from the league sites.

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