Friendster was innovative but unsuccessful, paving the way for Facebook’s explosion in the social networking world. Gilbert Arenas did the same thing for Shaq and other athletes who use social media, according to Sam Taggart of Sports Networker. Shaq has over two million followers on Twitter, but Arenas was one of the first athletes to experiment with social media when he began a popular, innovative blog nearly three years ago.
Arenas wrote the blog Agent Zero: The Blog File (the blog is no longer updated and has moved to NBA.com) from October 2006 to November 2008. He entertained his audience by posting bold game predictions, giving a behind-the-scenes look into his life, and even placing bets with readers on occasion. The blog, coupled with success on the court, catapulted his career during those two years by increasing his visibility in the sports sphere and gaining coverage from outside the Washington area. Taggart says that without the blog, the Wizards probably would not have signed Arenas to such a lucrative six-year contract in 2008. Aside from his basketball ability, his persona as a blogger helped them sell tickets and establish an identity as a team.
However, Arenas found himself in trouble for blog posts from time to time and he claimed the media focused more on his blog than on his play. He was also criticized for posts in which he guaranteed wins or predicted he would score 50. The blog was entertaining and successful, but it became somewhat of a distraction at times, simply because of the edgy content written by Arenas. Gilbert himself recently announced that he wouldn’t be returning to the blog this season because he wants to stay more focused.
I’m no advocate of the ego-centric athlete (which, let’s be honest, includes Arenas), but I think what the blog accomplished for both Arenas and the Wizards was more beneficial than not. He leveraged his career while increasing coverage for his team. I would think that the Wizards had to have sold more tickets when Gilbert guaranteed a buzzer beater or predicted that he would score 50.
Sam Taggart calls him the first athlete to be successful with social media. What do you think? Was Agent Zero’s blog a good thing or a bad thing?