But there's another group of sports bloggers who frequently get lost in these discussions: athletes who bypass the media and communicate directly to fans through their own blogs. Athletes' accountability may be up for debate, but their credentials and access can't be denied.
Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards is the gold standard; Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins is quickly gaining a following. And then there are dozens or maybe hundreds of other professional athletes who have their own blogs. Some feel slick and polished and look more like the work of a PR consultant than an athlete. Others feel authentic and raw and are clearly written by athletes who have spent their lives training for competition, not honing the craft of writing.
In the latter category is the blog written by Ronda Rousey, a U.S. Olympian in judo. I have previously mentioned Rousey's blog as one that is smart and funny, but Rousey has recently made an allegation against a judo official on her blog that is very serious.
Rousey writes on her blog that the official in question (whom Rousey names, but who I will not) has faced "DOZENS of documented accusations of molesting young girls." She continues:
Since Rousey referred to these allegations as "documented," I contacted her and asked her to provide me with the documents in question. (I also contacted USA Judo; my message was not returned.) Rousey e-mailed me an eight-page PDF containing three affidavits of people making accusations against the judo official, as well as a memo saying the official was once suspended from a judo club. All of the documents are more than 25 years old.
How is this man still allowed to be in the same VENUE of our athletes let alone protected by USAjudo and kept in an extremely influential position? ...
If this man is not removed from office and banned for attending any and all USAjudo events by the time the olympics are over; I will NEVER renew my USJI [United States Judo, Inc.] membership or support anything to do with that organization again. And I would encourage my family, friends, and teammates to do the same.
If I were to post that PDF here, it would undoubtedly make the official in question look bad. But these documents represent just one side of a story, and anyone can write up an affidavit and get it notarized. It would be unfair to this official to simply report the accusations and leave them at that.
Rousey, however, makes no pretense of fairness. The closest she comes is putting this statement in bold at the bottom of her blog post:
Please note I have said "allegedly" to prevent being libelous*That statement shows both ignorance of libel law -- saying "allegedly" doesn't immunize a writer from a lawsuit -- and a failure to grasp the gravity of the accusation. It's best not to be flippant when making statements that could ruin a person's reputation. From where I sit, there's nowhere near enough here to justify repeating the allegations against this man.
But the point of all this is that it isn't about where I sit, it's about where Rousey sits. She's America's best hope to bring home an Olympic judo medal in two months, and that means that her words carry a great deal of weight. If Cooley or Arenas had made such allegations against an NFL or NBA official, is there any doubt that those allegations would be in the news? If Rousey wins gold in Beijing, she'll be, for a few fleeting days, almost as famous as Cooley and Arenas, and at that point her blog will be impossible to ignore.
I hope by then she has either removed the post from her blog, or bolstered her post with evidence to support her allegations. It's fine that athletes have blogs without editors, but it's not fine to have a blog without accountability.
UPDATE: Rousey has now removed the blog post.