"Garage" Sites

The ease of access to the Internet for the public has brought a new player to the table in the world of sports journalism. The "Everyman" who is just an average fan of a sports program, or simply sports in general can now start up his own website and enter the fray.

Many sites have begun as a result of publications that are supported by the institutions, like the Ole Miss Spirit and GatorBait. These sites often receive tremendous support from their institutions and are provided the same access to athletes and information as "hard news" media outlets like The Florida Times-Union and the Gainesville Sun.

"We wanted to be a solid media outlet that provided information to the fans of the Gators," said Dave Stirt, founder of GatorBait magazine. "But, we also were determined not to be a homer publication that simply served as a mouth of the athletic department." (Stirt, 2000)

But these sites are competing with the newspaper and television sites for a place at the table at events. The added pressure of the everyman site is one that complicates the issue.

Many of these sites incorporate chat rooms and message board options, which allow fans to post their opinions on the issues and the games. They also tend to deal a lot more with rumor and speculation than the other sites, which are supported by printed media outlets and broadcast outlets.

Because of the lack of a tie to these media organizations, many athletic institutions refuse to recognize them as legitimate players in the game of journalism and bar them from taking a seat at the table.

The ironic part is that in some cases the garage site may get the actual story quicker than the legitimate site because of the ability to run with a rumor and lack of accountability to a higher name. The very nature of the chat rooms and message boards allows them to post information, or misinformation, with anonymity and viewers are allowed to determine for themselves what they view as truth and fiction.