6/15/2009 Written by Michael Castillo
Labels: Orignal Inteview
Labels: Orignal Inteview
This weekend I had the pleasure of interviewing successful blogger, and aspiring sportswriter, Matt Clapp, of the blog Sharapova's Thigh. It was a blast to play pepper with the internet sports fanatic, and even more enjoyable listening to what he had to say about his journey into the blogosphere.
Michael Castillo : Hey Matt, welcome to The Sporting Globe. How's the blogosphere treating you?
Matt Clapp : Thanks a lot Michael. The blogosphere is treating me exceptionally well, much better than I could've anticipated. It's like a giant brotherhood in the sports blogosphere, I've been absolutely amazed.
Michael Castillo : Your blog, Sharapova's Thigh has been around for a while now. How did you start and where did you envision yourself this far into it?
Matt Clapp : My good buddy and roommate at the time, Brad Creque, wanted to do a sports website. He kept saying stuff day after day like, "Matt, I'm serious. We talk sports half of the day. Let's get our own website started...". We actually were trying to get a sports show on public access television in Fort Collins, Colorado, which fell through.
So money was not at all even considered, but just something we enjoyed doing. We each ideally wanted to get into sportswriting or something in the sports world in the future as that's really all either of us know, so we figured we could do something to hopefully speed up that process through experience in the field, and have some fun with it at the same time.
Well I talked with another friend of mine, Natalie Plowman, and she showed me this blog she had. When she showed me her site and informed me it was free to start one of my own, I was shocked. This is how out of the loop I was. I figured to start any sort of site, we'd have to pay up front.
Without knowing how serious we could get with this, Brad and I figured, hey, let's just start a free blog and see where we can go with it. I didn't plan on getting serious with the site, just figured it was a place I could rant a little bit and possibly show off what I always considered to be worthless sports knowledge to my friends. Anyway, we finally got it started in late January 2008, I began to really enjoy it, and here we are now.
Michael Castillo : Did you ever imagine the vast network of bloggers?
Matt Clapp : I'd frequently read Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber for example prior to this, but I had no idea about all of the talented and remarkable blogs out there until I started one of my own and looked for ways to improve it.
I've been influenced greatly by so many sports blogs, as well as received an incredible amount of assistance from many of these people. We wouldn't be anywhere close to where we're at without the help of the people at Hugging Harold Reynolds, NESW Sports, MoonDog Sports, The World Of Isaac, Zoner Sports, Hip 2 Da Game and Gunaxin just to name a few. I've learned so much from all of them.
I really had no idea there were this many talented people out there in the blogging world until I got into it myself.
Michael Castillo: Where did you get the name Sharapova's Thigh?
Matt Clapp : Brad and I didn't really know what exactly we wanted this site to be. I mean we knew it was going to contain sports articles, but we figured to get anybody at all to read it, we'd need something else to the blog.
We're both guys in our 20 somethings, both enjoy the bar life probably a bit more than we should, etc. And we like to think we have a pretty good sense of humor. So we decided to try to get a name that could show what our site was going to be about, and show our personality in it as well. Literally the first name we blurted out... I said, "Sharapova.... we could do something with Sharapova. Guys love her, she's an awesome tennis player. Sharapova's Thigh?"
Brad looked at me and said, "What? What the (expletive)?", and we each couldn't stop laughing for about 15 minutes straight. I was telling him, we can't actually call the site this can we? What does it even mean? To this day neither of us even know, it's just a stupid idea that I yelled out for no reason. We decided to go with it though.
Even though a lot of people love the name, I regret it a little bit. I feel it sort of takes away from our credibility and it's difficult for some people to take us seriously when we're trying to be. It's also embarrassing to explain to elders and females.
Michael Castillo : While I love the name, I don't think it takes from your creditability, because your sports material is spot on. So far, what aspect of sports writing as made the most impact on your blog? Is there a specific story or concept that allows you to shine when you post about sports?
Matt Clapp : To the first part, thanks. That's nice to hear. And to the second, baseball for us without question. Pretty much every writer on the site knows a lot about baseball, and we've tried to show that off a little bit with our "Where They Stand", "Around The Bigs", "Random Retro Baseball Player", and most recently, "Fiscal Responsibility" pieces.
I feel we can cover about anything in regards to baseball, basketball, and football, but as a whole we definitely do the best with our baseball coverage.
Michael Castillo : With the mixture of your sports and entertainment content, what steps have you gone toward to keep the sports theme ever-present in your own blogosphere?
Matt Clapp : Great question. It's definitely a struggle. There's all sorts of things we've done, or tried to do at least. Social networking has been huge for us in doing that. We've been very active on on sites such as Ballhype, Yardbarker, Sportsviews, and Rootzoo to get our sports posts out there and build relationships with other sports bloggers out there.
I also can't emphasize enough how important Twitter has been in that regard. A lot of people complain about how they only get a few hits maybe for something they post on Twitter, to me that's not what it's about.
Michael Castillo : How has Twitter revolutionized your blogging experience?
Matt Clapp : Well it's been an easy way to show that I'm a huge sports fan, and I've been able to interact with hundreds of other sports bloggers in the process. I feel I've made a lot of friends doing that, and definitely gained some legitimate fans which is important to me.
The traffic's great and all obviously, but to me it's important to get some people that really appreciate what we're doing, and actually reading the sports posts we spend hours writing. I think it also helps our reputation quite a bit.
Michael Castillo : Where do you go from here? A year and a half into blogging, what is left to do? Any new things on the horizion we can look forward to?
Matt Clapp : If I had a clear answer for that, I'd feel -much- better about things. There's a ton left to do though. One major positive that I like about our site, is that I feel we can cover about any topic out there. Additionally, I think you're going to see the site mature a little bit, or so that's my plan.
If you go back and look in the archives of our first few months of the blog, you'll notice a lot more immaturity, much more foul language, and pretty much a blog that was suitable for only people ages 18+. We're not going to lose the babes or anything, it's a part of the site's identity whether I really like that or not anymore. However, I do think it's going to be a much more professional site with quality sports analysis that will allow more people to feel comfortable visiting the site.
One thing I'm really excited about is a new website I've started with another Sharapova's Thigh writer, Justin Agla, called "The Friendly Blogfines". We're each diehard Cubs fans, like I know you are. Justin and discussed doing a site for awhile, and finally went through with it in the last few weeks.
On Sharapova's Thigh, I like to keep it a general sports blog without any specific team affiliations since we have double-digit contributors, and it might confuse some readers.
We wanted to have a place to write about our beloved Cubs, and with a different tone than you'd usually see us write on Sharapova's Thigh. We report and analyze Cubs news, do live game blogs, etc. We're not very biased and just like talking baseball, so we encourage fans of all teams to check it out. You won't see any bikinis or much bad language over there either. So yeah, if people can't take our writing seriously on the Thigh, hopefully they can here at least. It's us writing about what we are truly passionate about over anything else, and in a professional manner.
Michael Castillo : It's been a pleasure having you here at The Sporting Globe with an Original Interview. Thank you, Matt.
Matt Clapp : Thanks so much for having me, Michael. I'm a huge fan of The Globe. I think you guys have superb sports analysis and can go far, so keep at it.