On the Web, Athletes are Leaving Money on the Table

More athletes need web pages. This doesn’t sound like something that should have to be said in 2009, but Google your favorite athlete and see what comes up. Chances are the first few results are for stats/bio pages on the big sports sites—like ESPN.com or Yahoo! Sports—or for Wikipedia pages. Sometimes the top results are recent headlines about the athlete.

But what you don’t see enough of in the top results are official websites for these athletes—in other words, their own web page through which they can grab web traffic and where they get to control the content. Some sports figures have them, but not enough do.

It may seem that, unless the athlete is someone who loves the spotlight, they don’t need a website. Or that because many of them are financially set, they don’t need their own online outlet to promote themselves further. I don’t see it that way.

In my opinion, every athlete, especially the ones on the fringe, should have their own space on the web—someplace they can show their worth, pitch their products, generate support for their charities or mobilize their fans in any way they’d like.

Next time an athlete is in a popularity contest to make the last spot on the all-star team, a player with a high-traffic website, a mailing list and a strong Twitter following could have the edge.

A website could be one way for a current athlete to set themselves up to transition into a career in the broadcast booth, by getting started now with video postings and podcasts.

Or if a coach or player decides to write a book, it has better chances of hitting the best seller list quicker if that new author has a website with regular visitors.

And for retired athletes who may have played their sport before contracts got to be as lucrative as they are today, a website could be a key revenue-generator for selling autographed memorabilia, booking speaking engagements or showing they have a following that makes them worthy of endorsement deals.

Even the last player to make a pro roster has people searching for them in Google. But if any athlete, well-known or obscure, doesn’t have a site waiting to be found on Google, etc., then all the web hits go to the ESPNs and Yahoo Sports of the world.

A simple website and a little Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should get the official site of most athletes placing on the first page of the Google results, probably in the top 3 to 5 slots depending on what else they’re up against and the effectiveness of their SEO efforts. For those who don’t want the distraction or who don’t have the time to produce content for their site, there are people who can help.

But when an athlete doesn’t have a website up and running, so they can grab some of the search traffic their name generates, it’s like leaving money on the table.