My Blogs With Balls Experience: A Summary
If you follow this blog you might of known I went to Chicago last weekend to attend the Blog With Balls 3.0 (BWB) Conference, and was invited to be part of the “You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right…to Blog?: A Legal and Ethical Primer to Sports Media in 2010” panel. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly was feeling like the odd girl out (literally One Sport Voice), as I explained it to the audience: I represented a ‘Trifecta of Tokenism’ as 1) one of the few females in attendance (~15 of 150 attendees were female), 2) an academic who studies and critiques sport media, and 3) someone who writes and advocates for women’s sport. I’d add one more…I don’t blog to make money, my blog is an offshoot of my teaching, research and outreach. After this weekend where I learned that some blogs get +3 million unique visitors a month, I’m fairly certain I’ll never make money from my One Sport Voice blog.
As my fellow panelists and I were attempting to discuss various legal and ethical issues in an engaging way, the best part of the panel is that we did not agree on anything. You can see a video of most of the panel here courtesy of Justin.tv I think there are not enough instances where people can disagree publicly and have an engaged discussion-I’ve written about this in a previous blog. Our panel I think accomplished this task. I enjoyed meeting my fellow panelists and some have posted their thoughts of their experiences at BWB 3.0 including Alana G of Yardbarker and Josh Zerkle of PUNTE. I learned a great deal from them and others in attendance.
Whether you thought the panel was great or stunk (follow the Twitter hash tag #bwb3 to tweets about conference and our panel), there were some big picture BWB take-aways for me.
1. Most people (including mainstream sport bloggers) do not care about women’s sport, female athletes, gender issues or the sexualization of women in general. I did not hear ONE mention or discussion of female athletes or women’s sport in the entire conference. When females were mentioned it was as a) sexual objects of professional male athletes or, b) “mommy bloggers”. It seemed the assumption at BWB was that if women blog, they blog about mom stuff but if you are a male blogger you blog about sports. I did not hear anyone refer to themselves or other male bloggers in attendance as “daddy bloggers”. This may seem trivial, but the language used to describe “mommy” bloggers marginalizes them and makes it seems as if what they write about isn’t valued or important. I could get into a long blog about how the opinions and domestic work of mothers is under valued in society but I won’t. It also erases the fact women do blog about men’s sport (in fact most of the women at BWB wrote exclusively about men’s sport) and that men do blog about women’s sport (although I didn’t meet any of them at BWB).
To witness the many women and men who blog about women’s sports go to the Women Talk Sports Network.
Call to action: Those who blog about women’s sport and those women who call themselves sport bloggers, get yourself to the next Blogs With Balls conference.
2. I mentioned before my fellow panelists did not agree on much, which was both good and bad. As I listened to the opinions and thoughts of my fellow panelists discuss what kind of (ethical) decision making they engage in while deciding to post/not post or break a story, one theme was “everyone makes his/her own choices and decisions” which reflects moral relativism. Those who adopt a moral relativistic perspective think there are fundamental and irreconcilable disagreements about right and wrong and may believe that respect for others means that we must tolerate value differences. This is obviously problematic and leads to many of the ethical issues which arise in the blogosphere.
Should there be a universal code of ethical decision making regarding what is posted on a blog? I would argue “yes”. Can sport bloggers reach an agreement about right/wrong and guiding principles which guarantee human rights and dignity… sadly, I think not. I, and other scholars much more versed in moral education, believe there are universal moral principles such as care and fairness. So how do you get people to critically think about what they write about and consume?
Researchers have argued that critical thinkers are much more likely to engage in ethical decision making which have three criteria according to Ennis (2000):
- care that their beliefs are true and that their decisions are justified; that is, they care to get it right to the extent that it is possible;
- care to present a position honestly and clearly, theirs as well as others’; and
- care about the dignity and worth of every person.
Some bloggers may prioritize personal and financial gain and exposure over doing the right thing for the right reason, or doing what is best for all parties considered as a member of a collective society. Call me naive and Pollyanna but I think striving to make moral and ethical decisions is a worthy endeavor, and one that the blogosphere in general could benefit from undertaking. I think this will increasingly become relevant as digital media becomes the primary source of news and information, and issues of blog censorship arise.
Photo from here.