Over the past couple of weeks our site was attacked for the way we report and the way we are trying to grow. Irrelevant dribble by bloggers who hide behind parody accounts on twitter. You know the type, the people who have to use alter-ego’s to try and tear you down but when face-to-face they act like your best friend. Internet tough-guy’s we call them.
A Buffalo based blog was caught plagiarizing the Sabres web account, disgusting on all levels. The guilty blogger is someone I had never met. However I knew two guys in particular who wrote for the same site and defended them publicly. Why, because they were innocent and both were good guys. Unfortunately they were guilty by association.
I stand by my comments, Paul Lane and Anthony Custode are hardworking Fathers who sacrifice home time to cover the Sabres and Bills in an effort to make a few extra dollars to feed their families. Shame on the site for publishing stolen work, but I’m not going to let anyone run my friends through the gutter.
The #300Level was born officially back in 2011 when my cousin Brian and I looked for a place to share our ideas about what was happening in sports, locally and beyond.
He had his thing and I had mine, we decided to pull together and go ahead with one site, fromthe300level was born. I’m a bit older than Brian. Not that I know any more or less about sports, what I know is my opinion based on experience.
My profession and education are as far away from journalism and broadcasting as you would imagine. This is a hobby, it’s fun. Some people brew beer in their garage. I bought podcast equipment and a domain name. Quickly into our venture one thing became crystal clear, I was way out of my league in all aspects but one. Determination. I am going to make this work if it kills me.
Breaking into sports journalism is something I don’t have the time to do. I’m married, have a newborn and run two logistics companies. On top of that I belong to several charitable organizations that require quite a bit of my free time. Why go on? Because there are many kids out there that want a career in the profession I wanted when I was their age.
In this area there aren’t a lot of internships available to help a college kid break into the business. With the emergence of web based media the opportunity to gain needed experience is right in front of your nose. The issue is not every aspiring journalist has the funds or resources to pull it off. I enjoy being a big-brother of sorts or a positive role model in that respect. If the #300Level can play a role in helping just one kid land a job in sports journalism then we have succeeded.
Because our site is a recognized local sports blog we have been given access to the Buffalo Sabres, Bisons, Bandits, Niagara University, Buffalo State and Canisius College athletic events. This past fall we had access to the CCM/All American Prospects Game. Bill O’Hare, now running The Herd Report is a success story. O’Hare is a 2014 graduate of Cortland who at school co-hosted a college radio show called “Buckets and Dan”. When he returned home from school he joined our blog, was given access to the Sabres and also the CCM/All-Star Game. Had our website not laid the foundation, O’Hare wouldn’t have had that access, those experiences. It was my pleasure being able to help Bill.
When he called me a month ago to say he wanted to write full-time for the Herd Report he thought I might be upset. Nothing was farther from the truth. I was really happy for him and I wished him the best. He is getting access to the Sabres on his own accord. That’s what our site is for. We help others, this isn’t a self-serving blog.
We have a lot of college aged kids writing for us, daily. Nothing brings me more joy then uploading their posts. Is the writing great? Not always, sometimes they forget to use spell check or have grammatical errors but that’s where they can learn from their mistakes. Sometimes you need to see it published to get better. This isn’t ESPN or CNN. Nobody is coming to our site for a game review before hitting up the pro’s. They visit us to fill time, I’m fine with that.
Francis Boeck and Marshall Haim are both high-school juniors considering careers in sports media. They have full access to all section six athletic events. What other Buffalo based blog is going out of their way to help kids like Boeck and Haim? That’s why we do what we do.
For all the crap we take from these so called bloggers like Eric Schmitz of 3rdmanin.org or just about any of these people from deargodwhyussports.com the negativity and venom they spew only helps fuel our passion. We aren’t going anywhere. So, our twitter handle paid for followers, big deal. Is it a crime? Are we less credible, nonsense! Dumbest thing ever Eric, didn’t you work in marketing? Jealousy is a funny thing. We never attacked another site, we feed off of them. There are a lot of great local blog’s on the web that work really hard to provide quality content.
Any blogger that knows me personally and worked a Sabres game from the press box including Schmitz knows that I do not pull any punches. I go out of my way to help anyone up there, especially those that are just starting out. The first time I worked a game there was a guy who ran a site called queencitysports.com (now off-line). He gave me some helpful advice on what to do and where to go. He was very obliging. So was Andy Boron of diebytheblade.com, these guys didn’t feel threatened by our site. I can’t say the same about the others. That’s not my problem though. I have a job to do, I have examples to set. Act professional, report on the game, atmosphere and be supportive to any and all new bloggers or interns trying to break into the industry. You never know how your unselfishness will take someone.
In less than a year’s time our site had over 200,000 page views. Recently we changed web hosts because our contributors wanted to use WordPress. We continue to gain followers “organically” on twitter but more importantly it’s the site that people are visiting. That means something to me and I am very proud of what we have accomplished in a short period of time.
We are a public site, when you put your work out you have to be able to accept the criticism that often follows. Hit me with your best shot guys. We carry on each day. I do this because I care about people. I do this because I enjoy watching others succeed and knowing that I played a role, no matter how miniscule it may seem to some. That’s not why you do charity though. You help others because that’s what makes you feel good. No matter how many times someone tries to knock you down the feeling you have knowing that you were able to get up off the canvas and fight another round is what makes it all worthwhile.
So Eric, MattyRen, Chris O and the rest of the crew you don’t bother us. You just make us stronger, if you need to take cheap shots at our site and what we try to accomplish then all that does is show people your true character. We can look at ourselves in the mirror each morning knowing we are making a difference in a kid’s life. Maybe someday you’ll appreciate that, it might be your own.