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Sports Salon A mixed bag of quick takes and longer, more serious fare, sportsjones is a thinking fan's site

A decade ago Royce Webb was a communications graduate student at
Iowa who dreamed of publishing a sports magazine but was daunted
by the start-up costs. Then came the Internet: For the minimal
price of desktop software, a server fee and a domain name, Webb,
now 36, founded "It's the magazine I always
wanted to read," he says.

Since its June 1998 launch, sportsjones has offered original,
offbeat and thought-provoking sports coverage. For instance, the
site's "March Madness Special" featured, among other stories,
sportsjones managing editor Eric Neel's eyewitness account of
Maryland All-America forward Len Bias's last game, in 1986,
three months before Bias died of a cocaine overdose; an excerpt
from the book Lady Hoopsters, Linda Ford's history of women's
basketball; and a 60-year compendium of quotes from the NCAA
tournament. Sportsjones also scores with its daily features. Web
logs entitled Surf Jones and Surf Ms. Jones furnish concise
takes on men's and women's athletics, respectively, plus links
to related stories on other sites.

Operated by a full-time staff of Webb, Neel and executive editor
Jeff Merron, sportsjones relies on a network of freelancers for
most of its features. In 1999 one of the more prominent
contributors, former NFL defensive end turned author Pat Toomay,
reported for the site on the filming of Oliver Stone's Any Given
Sunday. Last year Toomay's story, entitled Clotheslined, became
the first online article to appear in the Best American Sports
Writing annual anthology. Webb knows that a more traditional news
site might attract more page views, but he remains committed to
his vision. Says Webb, "We started this because we actually had
some ideas."

--John O'Keefe