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SPORTS CONNECTION

Are you sick of reading the same old stories about Buffalo sports? Do you wish there was something new to read, something fresh, something of substance written about Buffalo sports that everyone could appreciate?

The creators of buffalosportscentral.com want to change the way Buffalo looks at sports.

Matthew Riggio, founder and president of buffalosportscentral.com, and a senior at Clarence High School, came up with the idea for the site after the Bills/Titans playoff game last season. With 16 seconds left, if you remember, the Bills were ruined with the forward lateral play. "I'm staring at the TV, saying to myself, 'this did not just happen,' " Matthew says. "That's when I decided my voice needed to be heard."

He decided to vent his frustration on a Web page because "millions of people could possibly see it." He then recruited fellow sports fan Christian Porth, who is now a freshman at the University at Albany, to help him along.

"Buffalo has been plagued with a wide variety of sports curses and we were just sick of it, so we did what anybody would do in our situation: We complain and ridicule," Christian says of the site.

In the beginning, buffalosportscentral.com was a home page on the site Angelfire and, according to the staff, was "probably the ugliest site on the Web." The original colors were red, white and blue, and the articles were just sort of thrown on the page. Matthew didn't know a lot about Web site building either, and since he was the one putting the page out into the world, he had a lot to learn. He has since gained knowledge, and the page has become professional looking, with sophisticated graphics and layouts. Most importantly, Matthew and Christian achieved their goal of designing a "different," opinion-based sports site.

"We try to cover all Buffalo sports from the fan's point of view, not just an objective 'same-old same-old' view," Christian says.

Christian started a rigorous advertising campaign to let the public know about the site, which includes such stunts as writing the site's address on dollar bills and handing them out at restaurants and telling absolutely everyone he meets to check out the page. The hit list shows more than 20,000 visits to the site, quite a jump from its beginnings with visitors in the low hundreds.

Last spring, just as buffalosportscentral.com was starting to pick up a fan base, a hacker nearly destroyed the site. More than 1,000 hours of work were deleted, and all files for the site were lost. Matthew and Christian were forced to rebuild, frustrating as it was.

"It was childish is what it was," Matthew said. "All of that work . . . gone."

But the staff (which now includes Matt Monahan and Josh Bachman, both from Clarence High, and Chris Glenn from Williamsville North) rebuilt the site, and are even adding new features, like the "No Spines Club," which is "a tribute to all of the incompetent commissioners of sports," as well as the "I'm Ticked" section, a sound-off forum.

Buffalo sports are very important to these young men, and they are interested in what their readers have to say. They encourage site visitors to e-mail them with feedback and/or editorials that are print-worthy.

As for the future, the staff of buffalosportscentral.com is looking to gain interviews from professional athletes. A college section will be added, with a focus on Niagara University (which, in Matthew's opinion, has a hockey team that is "by far the best-kept sports secret in all of Western New York") and Syracuse University.

Matthew and Christian hope, above all, that others find satisfaction in a "different" kind of sports site dedicated to Buffalo, one that everyone can enjoy. And with buffalosportscentral.com, it seems like they're on their way.

Meg Glenn is a graduate of Williamsville North High School.

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