On The Players Tribune
This September, Derek Jeter stepped away from the game of baseball, marching stoically off into the sunset forever. Adorned in their number 2 jerseys, little kids cried in the Bronx; men and women alike looked longingly out their windows; and dogs all over the world howled unexpectedly on moonless Autumn nights.
But when the god that is Derek Jeter slams a door, he also opens a window – the window in this case being your web browser. Yes, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so to does Derek Jeter emerge as a media mogul, founding the sports website The Players Tribune.
“The Players Tribune: The Voice of the Game” promises nothing less than to revolutionize sports media forever, by giving a voice to that voiceless demographic more commonly known as professional athletes. So how is it different? TPT lets the pros themselves write articles, which are curated and presented on this beautifully designed zine-style website. They give their opinions on issues of sport without that pesky mitigating influence of sports journalists. And it supposedly stands by this proposition, as its roster of editors (or at least those with the title bestowed upon them) includes the Seahawks’ Russel Wilson, The Clippers’ Blake Griffin, and NASCAR’s Danica Patrick.
At OneMethod, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several pro athletes on personal branding and communications projects, so I now know how sharp, funny, and genuinely creative athletes can be; there’s no doubt in my mind that pro athletes are exceptionally smart people. But here’s the thing, The Players Tribune makes an already passionate and verbal demo seem restrained and almost…boring.
The question has to be asked: Do we as sports fans need a website written and curated by pro athletes? Isn’t it enough for them to play the sport and tweet about it, while leaving the hardcore journalism and content creation to more interested parties? Maybe.
But what we can say for certain is that this attempt suffers from a lack of vision. Ironically, it seems that Jeter, who’s one of only 15 Yankees in history to be named Captain, has failed to provide strong leadership with regards to the quality and focus of the site’s content. Currently, the content comes across as a disparate collection of opinions that either lack muscularity, fall flat comedically, or are so obviously sifted through PR agencies that they render the content thoroughly inauthentic. While the intention of TPT is to give athlete’s an open forum, the content should be worth reading about, whether it’s written by a pro athlete or not.
So yeah, in its current iteration, The Player’s Tribune doesn’t give us anything that individual players’ Twitter or Instagram accounts can’t provide in a more honest, if a little less pretty, form. So while Jeter is a shoe-in first ballot Hall of Famer, I think The Players Tribune might need another year or so to figure itself out.