It seems crazy to me that I actually began my career in online sports media before AOL Sports even really existed -- my company, Real Fans Sports Network (ne Extreme Fans), provided original sports content daily (constantly) to the AOL audience back when it was an aggregation of AOL-funded destination areas within AOL's "walled garden" of subscribers. I mean, come on: I was fluent in Rainman!
(We were a scrappy start-up literally inventing original online sports content -- we weren't the only ones, of course, but we had a prominent platform on AOL and we were wildly successful given our resources. One of the founders was Hank Adams, now CEO of Sportvision. One of my co-workers is Rob Peterson of NBA.com. One was Matt Sampson, who was critical to the first step of Bill Simmons' career. I'll write more extensively about it some day. But I digress...)
Then came AOL Sports -- which was still a collection of partners, like SportsLine and the NFL. Then AOL Sports went onto the Web. Then things were slow.
Then Jamie Mottram created and launched Fanhouse as part of AOL Sports and delivered a key evolutionary moment for online sports media.
Now it's just Fanhouse, quick-hit original content off the day's big sports headlines -- just like we at Real Fans were doing in 1995. Everything old is new again, I guess. Except Jay Mariotti still thought newspapers were the place to be.
PS: I ask this every time I mention it, but if any of you were on AOL back in the mid-90s and remember Real Fans, please don't be afraid to share. Man, was that an experience.