By Steve Czaban Special to Published Jul 19, 2006 at 5:05 AM
It’s always kind of neat to become aware of certain Web-based phenomena that are changing how sports fans consume their favorite product. The latest one is the video hosting service

If you have never been, the site is a totally free repository for all kinds of stupid video clips and the like. But unlike sites which pander to just the lurid, pornographic, or flat out juvenile, submissions are often quite elegant little video productions.

Here’s how YouTube is changing the debate on sports radio. With a well-constructed video piece, the submitter (or editor, in fact) is able to sway opinion very powerfully.


Because as humans, we believe what we SEE, above all else. We believe much of what we read, some of what we hear, and very little of what other people try to tell us. Seeing, however, is king.

The most recent example came to me when somebody e-mailed me a montage of clips from Italian forward Marco Materazzi’s career. He’s the guy who said that Zinedine Zidane’s momma was “so fat, her blood type is ‘Ragu’.”

(OK, I might have made that up. Nobody is certain what he called Zizou’s momma.)

Now, I have no idea what kind of player Materazzi really is, but I’ve sure as hell got a better idea now! If you watch this video from any non-soccer playing moron can say: “Holy crap. What a thug!”

And that’s the power of YouTube. Seeing is believing.

In the past, even if somebody had tons and tons of Italian Serie A footage on old Betamax tapes from home, computers were not around to properly edit them. Even once computers made it cheap and available to do so, the Web finally caught up with simple, one-stop, well known places to find this stuff.

In that sense, the Internet and computer technology is making us all editors, all content providers, and all researchers. And with a few clicks of the mouse and the buttons: “Send” “Fwd” and “Reply All” the video become viral worldwide.

Another example. Former 49ers wideout Brandon Lloyd. When he was acquired by the Redskins, every fan had seen all his circus like grabs on SportsCenter. The general perception was that he’s a stud widout ready to explode.

But the YouTube video I got from an ardent Niner fan, had clipped together all of Lloyd’s horrible drops and cowardly short-arms.

Whoa, I said while watching it. I suppose you didn’t get this montage from SportsCenter. It instantly tempered my enthusiasm on Lloyd, and shifted the debate in an instant.

(Note: Sadly, I can’t find the video clip now, but I know it’s out there.)

And that’s the revolution going on right now. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing, really.

The same sort of sports information revolution is being fuelled by Wikipedia as well. Only unlike YouTube, Wiki still has credibility issues due to the open source nature of the database.

Idiots and cranks and morons can pretty well deface Wikipedia entries that go un-noticed for days and months. Plus, the subtle way in which a Wiki entry is worded, conveys tremendous meaning -- and it’s not always fair or balanced.

But a lot of Wikipedia entries are spot on, well-written, balanced and thoroughly researched.

Which makes it a devastating tool for guys like me in sports radio, when we are trying to rack our brain on increasingly distant sports episodes or players. A perfect example is the legendary Jon Koncak signing by the Atlanta Hawks.

My brain remembers that Koncak -- a journeyman white center -- got a massive contract extension from the woeful Hawks that shocked the sports world.

Most of the rest, I have forgotten. In comes Wikipedia.

Though a reliable defender and fan-favorite for much of his career, Koncak is perhaps best remembered for the gaudy six-year, $13 million contract he received from the Hawks in 1989 -- an unprecedented total for a reserve. The deal was roundly criticized since it paid Koncak more than Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. His large contract prevented the Hawks from taking part in any other major free agent signings for several years. As a result, he earned the derisive nickname "Jon Contract.”

While certainly you could have “Google-searched” through a variety of articles and web pages that might have had this information. Once finding that information, it would have taken a good amount of time to put all the pieces in place. The beauty of Wikipedia, is that somebody took the time themselves to collect, synthesize, and produce a concise entry with all the pertinent facts.

Or “facts.”

One must always remember Wiki is not the last word in a sports debate, it’s just a good starting point to reinforce one’s memory, or at least give leads on other angles to research further for proof.

We are all becoming editors, researchers, and video producers.

You gotta love it.
Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.