Monday, September 3, 2012

The Death of Dyestat

John Dye
14 years ago a little website came along that literally changed the face of high school track and field across the United States.  John Dye cobbled together Dyestat and in doing so created a community that gave coaches, athletes and fans a chance to share stories, observations and ideas about the long suffering sport of track and field.  I personally believe Dyestat was responsible for the rebirth of American high school distance running which produced the likes of Alan Webb, Dathan Ritzenheim, Ryan Hall, Galen Rupp, German Fernandez, and Jordan Hasey.

Two years ago I wrote a blog which spelled out Dyestat's doom.  ESPN purchased the highly successful Dyestat and left it alone for awhile.  Then quietly rolled the board into its own high school banner called ESPN Rise and in doing so destroyed the sense of community.  There were several blunders when the change was made but the biggest involved dumping Dyestat's old message boards and starting from scratch.  Suddenly the once vibrant message board was a vast wasteland and everyone scattered to other boards and websites.

The old Dyestat had been easy to navigate and content wasn't hidden.  The new board was confusing, filled with nonsense stories written by people who didn't understand or appreciate the sport.  ESPN had dumbed it down and completely forgot its target audience.  It took just two years for ESPN to pull the plug.  Dyestat is gone.

ESPN's decision sent the handful of faithful into recovery mode.  California's Rich Gonzalez is desperately trying to set up a California version of Dyestat.  Rumors are also founder John Dye and one of the curmudgeonly writers Steve Underwood may try to put together a new website and why not.  The old Dyestat made money.  Not a lot, but it did make money.  No doubt John Dye sold it for a pot load of money.

The Internet has changed a great deal since Dyestat came along.  Social media now fills a major void in building communities and exchanging information.  I somehow doubt that John Dye can recapture the magic.  Second acts in American business rarely happen.  Here's hoping that John Dye can replicate his previous success.  I know I will be waiting, watching and hoping to rejoin the fun.

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