Unless you're as ardent a college football fan as I, you might have missed a small bit of history today when Skip Holtz, the head coach of the South Florida Bulls, became the first BCS Conference football coach to host a Google+ Hangout with fans. You can watch the half-hour or so video
You might not know what that even means. That's fine. You might not care about USF football. No problem. But this was a pretty significant step.
This, just like Washington St. Head Coach Mike Leach's Reddit Q&A, was another step toward removing the barrier between fans and the people involved in the teams, programs and sports they support. The barriers between those entities and the fans (or even those entities and potential employees, i.e. recruits) are crumbling down silently.
Make no mistake about it - this is important. More detailed thoughts after the jump and a question relating to the Rams (yes, you actually have to read this).
Three years ago, I excoriated Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star for his pathetic piece that has thankfully been deposited into the paid archive reservoir of the paper's website. It was petty, poorly thought out and ironically reflected the state of decline of the newspaper. I say ironically because it was people like Kravitz upon whom we relied for information and analysis for decades. Without them, we were as uninformed as the person who didn't care about the team we followed.
Until the boom of online sports coverage, we as fans were reliant on a small group of power brokers to define stories, provide quotes and fill in gaps of coverage that no one else had the access or capital to. Think Robert Duvall as Max Mercy in the Natural (see this and then this for a perfect illustration). The internet continues to demolish that paradigm.
That's what today showed. No reporters. No deadlines. No quotation marks. Just fans talking to a coach without forcing the coach to show up at some diner or the football stadium. You want in? You got it. Just want to listen? Go for it.
Is there anyone who wouldn't want to participate in something like this with someone from the Rams' front office or coaching staff? All the downsides are on the other side in this. Sure, we get access. We get to drive the conversation. We get to ask the specific questions we want.
But every time a coach or athlete or executive steps in front of a mic is a chance to make headlines for the WRONG reasons. It's a risky endeavor, but there are obvious benefits.
What's your take? I'm sure all of us would love to have the chance to ask Coach Fisher a question or two, or to discuss the upcoming strategies that GM Les Snead would like to pursue in the months leading up to the 2012 season.
Is the direct connection between fans and their team a good thing?