Hmm. . . that might sound like a slow news day, but those are actually three of the top stories on USA Today’s new sports site. It’s called ‘For the Win‘, “the first mainstream sports media property focused exclusively on “social news,” with a steady stream of stories that fans are, or will be, talking about right now.”
The whole thing is sponsored by Right Guard so it feels a little like an advertorial when you hit the page. Once you get past that, it’s an intriguing, new way to deliver light news.
The point of the site is to grab hold (or create) those stories that are likely to go viral. It’s not about the score from last night’s hockey game, it’s about a well-paid player using an ancient cell phone, the reality show antics of a football hero and Rhianna’s crazy Miami Heat sunglasses. It’s the kind of news that celeb sites have been pedaling to women for years, but now it’s for the men.
USA Today put together a team of of top editorial talent – guys who came over from The New York Times, ESPN and most telling, Buzzfeed. The posts are short and punchy. They’re crafted with a sarcastic sense of humor and they include plenty of embedded Twitter Tweets and YouTube videos.
Each post also ends with the most enormous social sharing buttons I’ve ever seen on the web.
The announcement post makes their intentions clear:
For The Win makes sports even more fun than they already are. We find and report the intriguing, offbeat and awe-inspiring stories that resonate, and we tell them in a way that engages people and makes it easy to share with friends.
There will be debate and atmospheric pieces that put fans in the center of the conversation with their friends and colleagues, especially online via social networks. For The Win works great across all devices, especially on your smartphones.
Basically, if there’s something interesting happening in the world of sports, we’ll be sharing and giving our original take on it. Check it out, and you won’t miss out.
For the Win isn’t all fluff. Scattered between the offbeat and the intriguing are some heartwarming stories such as “8-year-old boy battling cancer scores in ECU spring game,” and Amputee veteran gets his own baseball card. Then again, even those stories are unusual in the world of sports reporting.
I think For the Win is an interesting spin on internet journalism. The posts are bite-sized; perfect for mobile and I like that they’re not taking it too seriously. I wouldn’t want to see world news written this way, but for the wacky world of pro sports, it works.
The only sport I watch is ice hockey, but I still have to go find out why Shaq was running around on TV in his underwear. That’s the power of social journalism.