One thing that, when you think about it, is rather amazing about America is its diversity – not in race or creed or anything like that, but in the places people live. America is a big country – only Russia, China, and depending on who you talk to, China (and I’m not talking about Taiwan) are bigger. But in those other three countries there are pretty wide swaths of the country that are basically unsettled, and #5 on the list, Brazil, is a full million square kilometers smaller – and with the exception of the capital of Brasilia, the vast majority of the population is packed in on the coast. Australia is perhaps the only country that can compare to the US’ size and uniformity (all other countries are a third the States’ size at best), in that they have at least some major cities on the west coast (Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is fourth-largest), but even they have the Outback. The United States may have a lot of “flyover country”, but fairly large cities like St. Louis and Texas’ cities dot it, and even the Rocky Mountains have some sizable cities in Denver, Salt Lake, and the like. And on the UN’s list of “urban agglomerations“, only India has two entries larger than Los Angeles, or three entries larger than Chicago.
Perhaps as a result, we seem to take a lot of pride in our cities and really identify with them, especially since we tend to be further from other cities than in other countries. It also helps that our cities identify themselves more and stand out more. Sure, you might have heard of both Shanghai and Beijing, or even Mumbai and Delhi, but good luck distinguishing between them. But Los Angeles is the movie capital, Las Vegas is the gambling capital, Boston and Chicago are crazy about sports, Philadelphia and Boston are birthplaces of the nation, Miami is a vacation destination, San Francisco is known for the Golden Gate Bridge and liberalism, and so on. (I’m sure people in other nations will tell me the only reason I can’t tell the difference between cities in the same country outside the US is because I’m an ignorant American, but bear with me here.)
We all identify with Americans, but in something that may be a holdover from the days when people identified themselves by their state first, the place we live is close behind. There isn’t a monolithic culture across the entire country; America’s too big for that. One thing Americans take for granted that, from what I hear, is largely unique is that we have one level of news broadcasts for the nation, but also another for each community we live in. Similarly, when it comes to sports teams we identify very tightly with a fairly small set of sports teams that generally associate with one general metro area, and for the most part, we root for the local team by default. I really am fascinated by it. The closest parallel in Europe might not be individual cities like London and Paris, but the whole countries within the European Union.
Anyway, I’m not sure where I was going with this, other than I wanted to talk about ESPN’s creating a blog network for local coverage of all 30 NBA teams. There’s quite a bit of mileage out there in the “blogosphere” – you have blogs for specific topics, blogs for just about any league, blogs for individual teams, and so on. (Baseball and college basketball are presumably now demanding their own blog networks from ESPN.)
I was wondering if there were blogs out there covering a given city’s entire sports scene – one for New York, one for Chicago, one for Philadelphia, and the like. I was shocked to discover that (at least for New York and Seattle) they were few and far between! Blogs covering individual teams, two at most, were FAR more common! I could understand that it might be stressful to cover too many teams in too many sports at once, but it can’t be THAT stressful just to be a fan of the teams in your backyard, and certainly the reward of building a tight-knit community of fans would be worth it, don’t you think? Even if you’re uncomfortable covering two teams in the same sport that are probably bitter rivals, you could easily split the work with a sister blog or second writer, right?