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By Peter Schwartz
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We all wondered what Derek Jeter was going to do after his baseball career was over.

And it wasn’t long after his final big-league game in October that we found out about at least a portion of the captain’s future.

The day after he retired, Jeter launched The Players’ Tribune, a website serving as a new-media platform that brings fans closer to the games with unfiltered voices of professional athletes.

In other words, it’s a place for athletes to blog without worrying about being misquoted or misinterpreted. It also gives them more space that Twitter or Facebook.

“I think it’s really the evolution of technology and media,” said Kevin April, co-founder and COO of SportsBlog, one of the leading sports-blogging websites. “The earlier social-media platforms really paved the way for this. A social-media platform that allows you to post anything is the next logical evolution.”

Jeter, like many athletes, was very guarded during his career when it came to opening up to the media. Most fans probably don’t care if players speak to reporters. They just want athletes to perform and help their teams win.

There are some players who just don’t trust reporters. And — believe me — I’ve seen plenty of them during my career that I wouldn’t trust, either, if I was an athlete. In addition to that, there are athletes who have a story to tell that journalists might not want to touch.

“I think that self-publishing for athletes allows them to communicate stories that, typically, the mainstream media wouldn’t give attention to or wouldn’t necessarily highlight,” said April. “It really has leveled the playing field, where it’s not just the superstars or the All-Stars who get this media attention now. Any athlete who has a great story can share it with fans.”

But athletes aren’t the only people with a passion for sports that have a voice.

April and his partners launched SportsBlog in November of 2011, with the intent of creating a platform that was customized for the needs of sports fans and athletes. Including athletes and fans, SportsBlog has just over 20,000 bloggers who post submissions to the site.

And it’s all free.

“The idea behind SportsBlog is that anybody can enter their voice into the national conversation,” said April. The Players Tribune’ is working with a select group of athletes. At SportsBlog, any athlete, any fan or any journalist can — within a matter of seconds — start their own sports blog.”

And depending on how many “hits” a blog gets, there is an open revenue-sharing system that allows for the site to pay out a portion of the advertising income that is generated by the blog.

We have reached a new chapter when it comes to sports reporting. It isn’t just about what you hear on the radio, see on television or read in the newspaper. It also isn’t about what you see on “mainstream” sports websites.

These days, players and fans have a voice, and they are reaching a lot of people who are looking for something different in their sports news and stories.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a-Changin.”

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow @SportsBlog and visit their website at www.sportsblog.com.

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