(the new face of sports journalism?)

For a couple of seasons, the Washington Capitals have issued press credentials to selected bloggers. Starting this year, the New York Islanders have invited bloggers to attend games in what sounds like a press box version of the kids’ table. Offwing Opinion’s Eric McErlain compares and contrasts via The Fanhouse.

Over the course of the entire 2006-07 season I spent in the press box with the Washington Capitals (35 games overall), I was never identified as a blogger. I was simply treated like any other member of the working press and was granted the same access and privileges — including access to the visiting locker room if I wanted. Of course, that also meant I had the same responsibilities, which meant staying out of the way of the beat writers who had deadlines to meet, moving if I was blocking a camera angle, as well as making sure I didn’t step on team logo on the center of the locker room carpet.

But if you had taken a trip to the “Blog Box” on Long Island on Saturday night, you would have seen something quite different: A group of fans segregated from the rest of the press who were only allowed guided access to Islanders players and no access to the visiting locker room at all. Most galling of all, many of the box bloggers trooped down to the Islanders locker room wearing Islanders jerseys.

We ought to call it for what it is — a glorified fan club. That this farce is sponsored by Eklund, the least credible voice in sports blogging today, only makes the joke complete.

Eklund, commenting at James Mirtle’s blog, denies any part in selecting bloggers for the Isles’ Blog Box, protesting “we should not begrudge any fan for taking this great opportunity and living it up.” Which has to be the height of hyperbole for what amounts to Islanders tickets + pretzels. Previously, Mirtle — seriously! — wondered, “why not wear a jersey, talk to a few players and produce some team-friendly content?”

Perhaps because that would make someone a fucking shill for Charles Wang? Really, if Mirtle considers journalistic integrity a far too pretentious concept for lowly bloggers, how about the notion these would-be Stan Fischlers are selling themselves too cheaply?

At least Leonsis’ Bloggy Bunch are bought off with a spread one DC scribe breathlessly detailed as “a carving station, roasted veggies, chicken tenders, salad, plus the usual popcorn and pretzels. And don’t get me started on the dessert cart! Cheesecakes, chocolate fudge cakes, bags of Gummi bears and jelly beans, cookies, caramel apples…”.