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Better Know a Blogger: SBNation.com's Andrew Sharp

SBNation.com re-launched in September.  The purpose of the site is to give readers a clear snapshot of the entire sports world in a real-time, quickly updated fashion.  It is also a showcase for some of the best work in the network.  Andrew Sharp is one of the fine editors you see on SBNation.com on a daily basis.

I figured it was time to get to know another editor from SBNation.com and without further ado, here is Andrew Sharp.

Tyler Bleszinski:  Tell me about your role with SBNation.com.

Andrew Sharp: I'm one of the handful of editors for SBNation.com, and I deal mainly with football and basketball, on both the college and professional levels. In practical terms, though, this means I deal with just about anything, and we spend a lot of time on all the SB Nation blogs, doing our best to highlight the best stuff all around the network. 

Since we're still technically a start up--at least from a "national" site perspective--we're trying to maximize the talents of just a handful of talented editors. It's an exciting opportunity, and it's given me the chance to write--and read--on a wide variety of topics and sports. The site's kept me busy on weekends, as well, but "working" is a relative term when we're talking about watching sports all day and writing about them.

Bleszinski:  How'd you come to be involved with the company?  What was your experience before coming to SBNation.com?

Sharp: I got involved with SB Nation COMPLETELY by chance. It's been almost too good to be true. I met with Jim Bankoff early in the summer, through a mutual acquaintance, and we sat down and hit it off. From there, I came on as an intern, and quickly developed a rapport with Chris Mottram as we were preparing to launch the new site. I wasn't specifically designated as a writer initially--I specifically remember being pissed off about being called an intern while we were planning the site, haha. But as we got closer to launching the site, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to write some, and gain the trust of people like Chris and Jim. 

Were it not for this opportunity, I'd almost certainly be working as a paralegal right now, prepping for law school. Instead, I get to write about sports every day and call it "work." Doesn't get much more awesome than that.

As for previous experience... I had a blog? There were definitely people more qualified than me to write for us, and again, this wound up being a phenomenally lucky opportunity. I've always enjoyed writing and reading, but kept my work to myself and a small group of friends in school. I submitted occasional editorials for my college newspaper (I went to Boston College), but a college newspaper can only publish so many paens to Kevin Durant and Gilbert Arenas... So, for the most part, blogging and writing in a public forum began this summer, and it's still a very new process. I just hope I don't wake up one day and suck, because so far, it's gone better than expected.

Bleszinski:  You seem to write longer, often more involved pieces than many of the other folks on SBNation.com.  Have you tried to carve that out as a niche?

Sharp: Yeah, one of the worries I had when I began blogging is that I'd spend all day writing 300-word riffs that people would enjoy, but immediately forget. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I grew up reading stuff that I LOVED. Like, I'd plan my day around getting lunch and taking 20-25 minutes to read a kick-ass story that I knew was gonna be kick-ass. One day, I'd like to be someone that people will carve out 20 minutes for, and I think writing longer, more fleshed out stuff is part of that.

But it's not a niche, because consciously trying to be the guy that writes 2,500 word stories is incredibly obnoxious. And writing longer does NOT equal "smarter" stuff. I'm just as interested in posting funny videos of Matt Stafford, and moreso, whatever helps the site grow and reach a broader audience, I'll do it. 

Bleszinski:  How do you think SBNation.com fits in the overall sports media landscape and where would you like to see it go? 

Sharp: We need time. Right now, we're still fine-tuning the editorial process and working to build an audience. There's some stuff that we do that's really, really great, and other stuff... Not so much. What's amazing though is how good we are now, while we're still figuring things out. And as SBN.com gets better, I think we can be as good as anyone. The key will be optimizing the network in seamless fashion, and that's something we get better at every single day. As that happens, I think more and more people will realize that we're as good or better than anyone on the internet as far as sports news goes. Really. We are. And we're getting better.

So I think that, as more people come around to that realization, we'll begin to have a greater agenda-setting influence, and really help shape the way people watch sports. That, to me, is the best case scenario. And again, it all starts with the network, and finding the best ways to showcase our content. Because really, the amount of talent is kind of staggering, and if we present it the right way, there's no way sports fans will NOT like it.

But since the answer to this question has me sounding disturbingly like Jim Bankoff, my boss, I'll quit there.

Bleszinski:  What's your favorite sport and team?  Why?

Sharp: Sport: Basketball. To quote Chuck Klosterman: 
"Everyone who loves pro basketball assumes it's a little fixed. We all think the annual draft lottery is probably rigged, we all accept that the league aggressively wants big market teams to advance deep into the playoffs, and we all concede that certain marquee players are going to get preferential treatment for no valid reason. The outcomes of games aren't predeteremined or scripted but there are definitely dark forces who play with our reality. There are faceless puppet masters who pull strings and manipulate the purity of justice. It's not necessarily a full-on conspiracy, but it's certainly not fair. And that's why the NBA remains the only game that matters: Pro basketball is exactly like life."

And to elaborate, pro basketball's also a game that closely reflects not just life, but our culture. Baseball and hockey are full of dinosaurs in my opinion, and football players are sort of dehumanized, but basketball is full of guys that are distinctly human. And it's also the most expressive game around. 

Another reason to love it: regardless of how hard we try to find "The Next Superstar," they keep popping up organically--Brandon Jennings, John Wall, and Kevin Durant, for example--which is also kind of a perfect analog to life. You can't manufacture a myth or market someone to the top. That only happens in college basketball. With players from Duke, of course.

Team: Wizards, Tar Heels, Cowboys, and Capitals. And Nationals, but only for Nyjer Morgan. 

Bleszinski:  Is there a writer that you grew up admiring and were inspired by?  Do you try and emulate that writer or did you develop your own style?

Sharp: There were a lot of writers, but I try not to emulate one style. Bill Simmons is number one, though, and I know he's a pretty polarizing figure among the blog world. But f--- that. He helped established the form for this stuff, and regardless of his shortcomings or writer-ly tics, he's a guy that I look to as a role model. Otherwise, Chuck Klosterman's another guy; Lang Whitaker, from Slam and Sports Illustrated; Bethlehem Shoals, more recently; and then from non-sports, people like Tobias Wolff, Jon Stewart, Judd Apatow, Hunter Thompson, and a bunch of other people I'm forgetting. 

Bleszinski:  Tell me something about yourself that might surprise SBNation.com readers.

Sharp: I love sports, but I think fantasy sports are really dumb, and I can't get into them. I'm the only obsessive sports fan I know that feels this way, and I don't expect anyone to agree with me. But gambling's much more interesting to me. Is that surprising?

Anyway, I really appreciate you asking me to talk to you, and I hope I didn't make an ass of myself.

Bleszinski:  Thanks so much for your time.