Update: I started a Facebook page and a Twitter feed for the initiative. Thank you for your follows and likes!
When you say ESPN, you’ll get different reactions depending on who you ask.
Some chide the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” for paying too much attention to Brett Favre and Lebron James, others like the fact they can see World’s Strongest Man competitions every week while others simply love the fact that no matter what time of day and method, they can access sports news, scores and opinions.
One of the coolest things they’ve done in the past few years has been the introduction of microsites that focus on some of the biggest cities in the country: Dallas, New York, Chicago, L.A. and the best of them all, ESPN Boston.
The sites leverage existing ESPN content and also feature site-specific features by some of the area’s top traditional print and online journalists, many recruited from newspapers that simply couldn’t match the opportunity.
But while the sites primarily focus on traditional sports (think the four major leagues), each site has its own unique coverage. Examples include Los Angeles who prominently features USC and UCLA and New York with their U.S. Open coverage.
But it’s what the Dallas site offers that really grabbed my attention: a mixed martial arts section.
Their blog is contributed to by three writers, one of which hosts a show on the regional ESPN radio affiliate. While the stories mainly focus on local talent, the section also features news and opinion on national MMA news, obviously UFC-centric.
So with the sport continuing to expand around the world and more eyes than ever focused on the product, it’s time that ESPN Boston adds an MMA section. And yes, I’m the one that should run it.
Need some reasons? Here’s five.
1 – Journalistic experience
Not to brag, but I’ve got the whole writing thing down. I’ve been writing and reading since age 3 and started covering sports in my sophomore year of high school. Through my college years at Orono’s University of Maine, I never stopped. While football and men’s hockey were always the big beats, I took the path less traveled with women’s basketball and field hockey. The niche sports always appealed to me and still do.
After seven years working in pro hockey, I revived my writing career in a part-time capacity with local and national magazines and websites. It felt awesome getting back in the journalistic saddle.
It’s easy to be a blogger. It’s not easy to be a journalist. I take pride in my background and continue to work on my skill set every day. Whether it was being on a beat, writing columns or being an editor, I’ve been there and done that and love learning more about my craft.
2 – MMA experience
While I have never competed in the sport, I understand the discipline it takes to compete in it. While the assumption by some is that the competitors and fans of MMA are bloodthirsty simpletons, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I was a pro wrestling and boxing fan that began to appreciate MMA in 2005 when The Ultimate Fighter reality series first started on Spike TV. I couldn’t get enough and was fascinated by the personalities, the passion and the dedication these men and women put into their careers.
Armed with that, I began to write about MMA, first starting my own blog and then contributing to other websites like Bleacher Report which helped my work get placement on CBSSports.com. While doing that, I added internationally distributed FIGHT! Magazine and began to do radio appearances.
Between my articles and those media appearances, my name is getting more familiar all the time in the MMA community thanks to hard work and long hours of writing, networking and being dependable.
3 – Online experience
Writing is one thing. Getting that writing found is another.
In my full time job for an email services provider, I’m responsible for creating content and getting clients, prospects and industry pros to interact with us. Whether that’s through social media, comments on blog posts or simple conversations, I feel great accomplishment and pride when those people understand our brand and look to us for answers.
I understand the importance of creating great stories and then promoting them for maximum page views, chatter and reader loyalty. Updating a blog once a week isn’t good enough. A commitment like this requires daily thought and content, created by those dedicated to the cause and up to ESPN standards.
In addition to writing, I’ve been an editor and understand the responsibilities of recruiting the right people to create compelling stories. Having the backing of ESPN would make this whole process even easier to accomplish.
4 – Boston — and all of New England — is ready for it
With MMA legal in Massachusetts, the UFC came to Boston this past August with a pay-per-view card and a Fan Expo that brought tens of thousands of fans into the city for the weekend. UFC President Dana White –a South Boston native — was ecstatic at the amount of coverage the event got as every major media outlet was present throughout the week’s media activities.
They’ll be back, but there are many other regional organizations that are based here that will continue to grow. World Championship Fighting, Combat Zone, Triumph Fighting and more are promoting events on a regular basis and people want to read about who’s next and why they should care. I think we could be leaders in this coverage, leveraging the power of the ESPN brand to satiate these consumers.
And when the UFC does return, ESPN Boston would provide unparalleled coverage of that event.
5 – I kinda work for the ESPN family already
I record a weekly segment called ‘The MMA Minute” on WGAM 900/1250, an ESPN Radio affiliate based in Nashua, NH. That must help, right?
My goal for the MMA section on ESPN Boston would be to create a destination for readers ranging from dabblers to the hardcore fans that are looking to get in-depth coverage and opinion on both the UFC and the local scene. Our work would stand alongside that of Mike Reiss, Gordon Edes, Chris Forsberg or any other ESPN Boston writer in capturing the reader’s interest and engagement with a flavor of everything that encompasses our six-state region.
In a hyper-competitive media market like Boston sports has become, diversification is a key weapon in winning the war for pageviews. It sure would be good having an MMA content general leading the charge, wouldn’t it?
Let’s talk, even if it’s just an informal chat.
Email me at email@example.com, hit me up on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. I do have a cell, but at the risk of getting bombarded with date requests, I figured that best be held in private.
So what do you say, ESPN Boston? You ready to step into the MMA content cage?
Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter and check out his audio archive of appearances.