Roundshaw Hop: Reflecting on BaseballGB’s role

Roundshaw-Hop-(128x128)Before BaseballGB was created, British baseball lacked a nationally pitched website run by neutral commentators. Some clubs or regions had adopted blogging functionality on their websites, but there were no independently run national websites covering British baseball in depth.

One of BaseballGB’s aims from the start has been to cover British baseball as objectively as possible. This is not the same thing as trying to dig up as much dirt as possible, as I shall now expand on.

If you are a regular to the site, you may have formed the impression that BaseballGB focuses on positive stories (such as the formation of teams) or neutral stories (such as updates on statistical leaders in the National Baseball League) at the expense of negative stories. And this is true to some extent. While the site does cover the range of news from positive to negative, there is indeed a tendency to avoid dwelling too much on the latter. But this is for a good reason, and one that does not involve sacrificing the objectivity of each of our reports. It all starts with the fact that baseball, in Britain, is an amateur sport.

British baseball does receive professional support from BaseballSoftballUK (the sport’s development agency), but it is in essence run by an amateur governing body for an amateur playing population, with the support of managers, officials, and other personnel, all of whom are also amateurs. I believe that since it is an amateur sport, it is unfair to put it under the same level of scrutiny as a professional sport would be. The people who run and play the sport are doing so in the moments of spare time they can find away from their jobs, families, and other commitments. So it is unfair to demand perfection.

At the same time, there is no harm in fair, constructive criticism; indeed, it is a crucial means of keeping administrators and other individuals on their toes. In short, if commentary is to help an amateur sport, it must avoid being overly negative, but without being blind to the problems.

The balance that BaseballGB strikes is to serve as an independent outlet for objective discussions of British baseball, but to have a leaning towards neutral or positive stories. This is the way in which we feel this particular site can best support the growth of British baseball.

Finally, if our coverage of such stories leads to further constructive discussion of the points covered among the wider baseball community, then that is a huge bonus. The thread of comments in response to Matt’s recent post on the National Baseball League’s expansion in 2010 provides a great example of the site’s coverage of a positive piece of news leading to a wealth of constructive comments.

 

2 Responses to Roundshaw Hop: Reflecting on BaseballGB’s role

  1. Matt Smith January 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    Very well put Joe. Constructive criticism does play a vital part in discussing anything worth caring about and is therefore something we shouldn’t, and will not, shirk from where appropriate. However, it’s all too easy to criticise and pick holes in things and ultimately that approach just leads to people becoming demoralized and deciding that they might as well pack up and do something else. That is the very last thing that anyone with an interest in British baseball should want.

    Encouraging and supporting the efforts of people who care about the sport is our main focus and I’m convinced that this is the right approach to take.

  2. Joe Gray January 5, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Just a couple of things to add to this post…

    Firstly, while I maintain that it is unfair to expect perfection from adminstrators of an amateur sport, I still do sincerely hope that each adminstrator enters his or her role striving to give 100%. For while perfection is impossible even in a professional set-up, there’s no harm in aiming for it.

    Secondly, this balance between focusing on the positives while retaining objectivity extends to game reports of any amateur sport. In a professional sport, I do not feel it is fair to Bucknerize any player, but since the players are being paid they should except some amount of negative criticism if they are not playing at a decent standard. For amateur players, however, it simply is not fair to subject players to the same level of scrutiny. This is why most game reports in amateur sports will typically focus on the positives, and mention any mistakes only very briefly. This does not mean that objectivity has to be sacrificed – all players making a mistake should be treated the same, and all players excelling should likewise be treated the same.

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