It seems like I've been following CBS Sportsline for ages. I even remember the CBS Rewards days where you could get "prizes" based on site usage points! (This apparently proved to be a loser for CBS.) I finally set up a profile in August 2006. There have been a lot of great conversations and a lot of great smack-talking. Lately, though, CBS has made a number of changes, and most of those changes have made this site less fun and less interesting. What's more, I discovered what I had been missing on this site. Some of the more notable changes over time are:
- The Content. So many articles, stories, whatever -- compared to years ago -- seem to be (1) designed to have little or no substance (Tony Dorsett's Third Cousin Once Removed Arrested for Reckless Driving), (2) seem to offer opinions for no reason other than to invite controversy rather than take a position (POINT: Brett Favre is good, COUNTERPOINT: Brett Favre is bad), and (3) are rife with factual errors and sloppy reporting. As a sports fan, I want -- no, I deserve -- more than that.
- Removing the ability to see who leaves you feedback. I relied on this to meet fans of similar teams and those with similar interests. Now, it's all invisible, and making new connections in the fandom is difficult. I know that a lot of people abused this privilege, using it as a chance to merely "get back" at others who left low scores. But it seems to me there are easier and more effective ways to deal with that.
- The new avatar policy. I rather liked my picture of a roping horse, head back, chugging a beer, along with the caption "What drinking problem?". But I can see how that would offend so many. Like, um... recovering alcoholic horses.
- The bizarre rating system. I've never been able to make heads or tails of it, but it seems to be even more misaligned than ever lately.
So, I went searching for a new home. And I have landed as ESPN.com. I had never been there until CBS Sportsline effectively forced me there. And what I found was thoughtful, accurate articles and user postings that were contentious but substantive and well-supported. I was truly dumbfounded, and somewhat embarrassed. I came away thinking, "Wow. So this is where all the serious sports discussions have been occurring the last ten years." Sure, their system is different. It has its weaknesses in terms of social interactions. But, my god, the substance.
Then, it dawned on me. CBS Sportsline was trying to be more like ESPN. They were trying to bring a level of integrity to sports reporting and coverage by imposing new, austere rules on its users rather than upgrading its writers, coverage and content. I will give CBS Sportsline one thing: a more user-friendly layout. But I guess that goes hand-in-hand with dumbing-down content while at the same time trying to smarten-up its users.
In any event, I won't be a complete stranger. I'll check in from time to time. But if you find yourself on ESPN.com, please be sure to look me up: my name is stickdeke.
Be good, and may the call always go your way.