Sunday, February 19, 2006

I’m A Convert

This weekend the NBA is putting on their All-Star showcase. A literal parade of the NBA’s best and brightest…and the stars (as they say) don’t seem to shine any brighter than they do in Texas (where the All-Star Game is being held in Houston).

And you know what?

As far as I'm concerned, it's not the most exciting thing in sports this weekend.

I know, I know…to those of you inflicted with a serious “Basketball Jones” that may be blasphemy, but I find my interests swaying further East to Florida. More specifically…DAYTONA!

I have never been accused of being a “gearhead” by anyone. Until last year, I had only seen one NASCAR race on TV in my life. That was five years ago, and I watched till the end. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that day I saw the sport lose perhaps its most formidable icon: Dale Earnhardt…number 3…the “Intimidator.”

I don’t know why I wasn’t hooked from that first day, but I wasn’t. Didn’t watch another race that entire 2001 season. 2002 didn’t grab me either. More of the same in 2003, ditto for 2004.

I sat in my friend Bruce’s swimming pool last Summer and told him about this crazy idea that I had to produce a daily sports publication via PDF file. I shared that I envisioned only covering the “Big Four” when it came to sports; namely baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

Bruce responded, “NASCAR’s bigger than hockey.”

At the time, I begrudgingly ceded the point but still wasn’t sold. It did get me to start thinking, investigating and exploring however. The businessman in me immediately saw dollar signs as I opened my eyes to how well the sport markets itself. That was enough to motivate me to want to go witness NASCAR live for myself. I made plans to go to Phoenix last November to take in the NASCAR weekend there.

The week before that though, I made the fatal mistake of visiting one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world at his home in Nashville, TN. The focal point of my trip there was to take in the Tennessee-South Carolina game at Knoxville. But the seeds were planted to help spur my interest in racing.

Knoxville is about a three-hour drive from Nashville. I spent the better part of that trip grilling Noel and Angie about NASCAR and what they loved about it. Noel just kept telling me that he couldn’t wait to hear about my first NASCAR experience (which was to follow the next week). I could see it in his eyes. I could hear it in his voice. This was going to be unlike anything I had ever experienced.
The next day (after Steve Spurrier and the Cocks beat up on the Vols) we drove back to Nashville and watched the “Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500” on TV at Angie’s brother Billy’s house.

Billy is the genuine article…the real deal. He first walked into Noel’s house with his bib overalls and generously shared the Crown Royal that he carried in a plastic flask (topped by a beer bottle cap) in the front pocket of his overalls. Billy told me stories about traveling to Daytona and Talladega and (of COURSE) Bristol!

I may not have been at the race, but I couldn’t imagine there being a more authentic race experience than watching NASCAR in Tennessee with my buddy Noel and my new buddy Billy.

That Sunday was one of the best days I had had in a long time.

The following weekend was a moot point. I was hooked. Carl Edwards had won two races in a row (in Dallas and then Atlanta) and then won the Busch Series race in Phoenix while I was there. Call me a bandwaggoner (is that a word?), but I have been a Carl Edwards fan ever since.

Today I did my best to maintain my composure after watching “mah boy” Carl get pushed into the start of an accident that cut his “Hershey Kissables 300” Busch Series race short. I had so much fun culling through the various photos that we had available for publication in XXL NATIONAL for tomorrow’s NASCAR edition.

Tonight, I sporadically lifted my head from my Powerbook to watch occasional slam dunk highlights from the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night. “Ehhh” was about all I could muster. The NBA just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

I’ve been converted.

I’m a Carl Edwards fan.

I am quick becoming a NASCAR nut.

I can’t wait to watch the Daytona 500 Sunday.

I can’t wait to go to Fontana, CA next week to take in all three races.

Oh lord…I may yet become a “gearhead.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Welcome to the new era of sports reporting...

Last June I boarded an airplane in Detroit and opened up my copy of the USA Today. I settled into my seat and quickly dispensed the rest of the paper and jumped to the only section that mattered to me at that time...the Sports section. I know, I know...I'm probably the ONLY person who has EVER done that. But as the saying goes, the sports section is the only section of a daily newspaper that occasionally has good news in it.

As an avid Los Angeles Dodgers fan (ok don't laugh too loudly), I wanted to see if my boys in blue had snapped their eight-game losing streak. Of course, because the game took place on the WEST Coast, there was no score to be found in my copy of the USA Today (which had been published on the EAST Coast). I grumbled to myself and thought "as great as the internet is...its too bad you cant take it with you on a plane."

That gave me an idea about Portability of sports news.

Why isn't there a national daily sports publication that is published as a PDF file?

I harkened back to the short-lived National Sports Daily as well as the birth and rise of ESPN as a network and began to entertain the "what if" questions that inevitably arise when one gets a crazy idea.

What if there were a National daily sports publication that we could deliver via a PDF file? What if we could cover EVERY game, EVERY day as if it were the 7th Game of the World Series or the Super Bowl? What if we could include full color shot charts and drive charts, digital Scorecards for every game every day? What if we could create an interactive PDF document that incorporated video and audio as well as hyperlinks in addition to the obvious pictures and text?

Would people download the PDF? Would there be enough fans, and would they be that fanatical?

January 31st, 2006 was the 16th anniversary of the launch of the old "National Sports Daily." Where that publication was ahead of it's time, this publication seems to be right on time. ESPN has been around for over 26 years, and as a culture we have been conditioned to accept our news coverage packaged in a 60 minute Sports Center episode. Since the inception of ESPN, the way we view video entertainment has changed from Betamax to VHS to DVD's and now TIVO is a household word. In that same time, audio entertainment has gone from LP's to CD's to MP3s and now Podcasts are di rigeur.

XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily is not your Fathers sports publication (unless of course you are under the age of 18, your last name is Aguirre and you live in Alta Loma, which case...this probably IS your Fathers sports publication).

Just as ESPN's growth coincided with the boom of cable television, so
XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily's inception fortunately coincides with the boom of broadband access and the birth of PDF publishing.

Just as ESPN was instrumental in revolutionizing sports coverage on television, so XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily will blaze the trail for sports coverage in PDF format for years to come.

Newsprint media is suffering. It is dying a slow, protracted and predictable death. XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily is the phoenix that is poised to rise up from the ashes of daily news print coverage. It's the next "great thing" in sports publishing.

So with that said, we had to ask ourselves one question. Is there a market out for a national daily sports publication? Based on the response we have received in these first few weeks of our "soft launch"...the answer is a resounding YES!

National daily sports papers are commonplace in countries all over the world. XXL is published by sports fans FOR sports fans. You might even say that our publication is "eXXcLusively Published for Demanding Fans." We are at the crossroads of broadband and PDF publishing technologies, which makes this a vehicle that is both sporty and sexy.

I just don't seem to sleep much anymore. I find myself staying up late nights working on XXL NATIONAL and getting up early every morning because I can't wait to start in on it all over again. What you will download over the next several weeks is a sneak preview of what the future holds. Over the next two months, we will add more games and more coverage on a daily basis.

On behalf of the team of dedicated sports fans who work hard everyday to make XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily a reality, we hope that you will make downloading the XXL NSD a daily habit. You can go to right now to download today's issue (if you havent done so already). Start the download and go get your cup of coffee. Better yet, start your download and tell your buddy in the next cubicle about this new XXL NATIONAL publication that YOU just found.

A few months ago, XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily began as a mere "what if" question in my mind. What if there were a national sports daily publication that we could produce via PDF file? What if that publication carried full color graphics, scorecards, drive charts and score charts?

Would people read it? Would there be enough fans, and would they be that fanatical?

The past is prelude. Enjoy the future of sports reporting beginning today.

Welcome to the XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily.

Ron Aguirre