Monthly Archives: May 2010

Why leading on the Washington Nationals can be as valuable as catching up on the Redskins

nationalsI’ve got a crazy-sounding theory, and it very well may be crazy, but I challenge you to talk me out of it.

In the long run, I think the lowly Washington Nationals will prove to be as valuable to TBD as the much-more-popular Washington Redskins. For real.

This is despite the rabid fan base for the Redskins compared to a barely-there fan base for the Nationals. This slaps the face of quite a bit of common sense.

But I have my reasons. And when it happens, it’ll be a living example of why leading is always better than playing catch-up.

My first task as a community host at TBD — a yet-to-be-launched website that’ll cover local news and sports in DC in a very new way — has been to reach out to sports bloggers in an effort to create a mutually beneficial network. I’ve slogged through blogrolls, opened hundreds of tabs, and built what I believe is the definitive list of currently active blogs that cover the Nationals and Redskins. (Capitals, Wizards, high school and college teams will follow later.)

Conventional wisdom — and possibly correct wisdom — says the Redskins are the online goldmine. The fan base is huge, the fan base is rabid, and there’s a massive hunger to grapple with the minutiae of the season.

So it seemed counterintuitive that my list of active bloggers included 18 blogs and sites exclusively covering the Redskins, and 28 exclusively covering the Nationals. Most of those Redskins blogs were established blogging powerhouses, while the Nats blogs mostly had smaller followings. Though I haven’t seen their metrics, I have little doubt the Redskins blogs attract far more traffic.

I asked Twitter why there are so many more Nats bloggers, and three Nats fans responded in lock-step.

doubleuefwhy: Would not surprise me. #Redskins never lacked 4 coverage

johnmtaylor: @bydanielvictor I think you’ll find there are fewer NFL blogs out there than MLB, NHL, NBA. Less need for them b/c of coverage saturation

doubleuefwhy: Sports talk radio has been basically Redskins all the time around here too since its inception @bydanielvictor @johnmtaylor

loudoun: @bydanielvictor Nats blogs are fewer…cuz they’re new, they lose, too many looking for answers, too many with bad ones…skins r settled in

So the blogging scene may be livelier for the Nationals because there’s less mainstream attention, which is also the reason those blogs don’t have many readers.

You can either see that as evidence that the Nationals aren’t worth the effort — or you can choose to see the Nationals as a growth area.

There isn’t as much room for growth in the Redskins tubesphere — the bloggers are well-established, and if anything their fans might say there’s an over-saturation of coverage. Getting a seat at that table requires strong elbows and a creative playbook. We plan to utilize both, but we’re long behind in that race.

Contrast that with the Nationals, whose fans want to see the team grow and could use all the help they can get. In creating a network of Nationals bloggers and providing them exposure (and revenue) they haven’t seen elsewhere, TBD can position itself at the center of the Nationals online universe.

This is almost certainly our only chance to do that.

Since the Nationals came to DC in 2005, they’ve been a lousy team with few fans. But I wouldn’t bet on it staying that way forever. I don’t think they’ll ever develop a Redskins-like fandom, but there will be a lot of website visits to be had when they finally put together a pennant run one of these years.

If we take them lightly now based on current site stats, all those future Nationals fans will instead go to whatever site took the opportunity that we slept on. Or, we can establish ourselves now before it’s needed, and enjoy our long-standing reputation when it really matters someday.

After tweeting about this crazy theory, I got these responses:

ryansholin I like it. Let’s put it this way: I recently moved to the area and know *nothing* about the Nats. Where do I start?

doubleuefwhy @bydanielvictor You could potentially be a leader if you give #Nats fans something they can’t already get and the team gets really good.

Well, we’ll work on our part.