Friday, August 31, 2007

Hockey Players in Cyberspace

I'm sure many of you did what I did upon hearing that Alex Ovechkin had ventured into the blogosphere - you went and looked at it. And then you said a silent prayer of thanks for Babel Fish's existence, because even though the translation provided by this language-swapping phenomenon is a little rough, at least now you can kind of figure out what Alex is saying.

Sort of.

Obviously there's not much on his blog yet, so I started looking around at the various links and I saw a few that looked like names. To my delight I discovered one that sounds familiar - Alex Kovalev. Well, naturally I had to go check out his site as well, right? All in the name of research...a blogger's work is never done.

A little more help from Babel Fish and I've discovered Kovalev is a big soccer fan. He is conducting youth hockey camps in Russia. He's got a book coming out with a terrifying picture on the cover (for details on purchasing this treasure visit his official website). He's a fan of the :=) smileys like Alex.

And my favorite part, very roughly translated from his first post:

It is very glad, that Ilya bryzgalov intends to bring in Togliatti, from where we are both by birth, Stanley's goblet. When I won its s "New York the Rangers", the possibility to transport it into Russia not it was. Give god so that this would come out in Ilya.
Ah, yes...Stanley's goblet. The ultimate prize for the medieval hockey team.

I could spend hours mocking Babel Fish translations, but I do have a point here. I just find it really fascinating to see how the explosion of various online communities and user-generated content have suddenly given us access into our favorite player's lives. When the internet first emerged we saw a few scattered player sites, licensed by and produced for players, but even those were rare because they took money and time in order to look somewhat presentable. Rarely was the content entirely written and generated by the player himself, save for a token greeting message and maybe an occasional letter to fans.

Now (as I prove every day) any idiot can have their own little corner of the web. LiveJournal, WordPress, Blogger, Facebook, MySpace, etc. - all provide anyone with a computer and a little spare time an outlet for their opinions, a means of communication with friends and family, a gallery for their photos. It's a new media that frankly isn't that new, just relatively untapped by the public...until now.

Now there are handfuls of younger NHL players all over Facebook and MySpace (although you obviously have to be able to distinguish the real ones from the fake...) Team sites often feature player blogs or diaries where we get to see just how good a writer these jocks really are. Already it seems like it's becoming common practice for Russian athletes to go on LiveJournal and I wouldn't be surprised if in the next year we see more and more NHLers following Ovechkin and Kovalev's example.

And why not? It's easy to do and it gets you a little closer to the fans that make your profession possible in the first place. For a sport like hockey where the players tend to be a little more humble, a little more gracious to fans than other professional athletes, it seems a natural progression that every player will soon have some sort of blog-esque site.

At a time when the league and the teams are looking for ways to reach out to the fans and make the game more accessible, it looks like everyone else is catching on to what our owner has known and preached for years - the technology is out there waiting. You just have to use it.


Elly said...

Neat! I really hope it's just a remnant of Babel Fish that 'girls' was singled out in Ovechkin's opening speech.

I'd say that I'd like to see a certain Penguin do this...but I don't see it ending well for him, being flooded out with posts by dippy girls professing their love. At least Ovechkin has the buffer of speaking Russian. Still, very cool find!

The Acid Queen said...

All Sid has to do is restrict comments to friends-only, and that will solve that problem.

Of course, for it to work he also has to NOT friend-back all the 238472972347 fangirls (and Jes Golbez) that will friend there you go.