It was this week in 1987 when I started writing this sports column for The Post and Courier.

At a rate of 200 columns a year for 20 years, that's approximately 4,000 opinion pieces I've penned with pride and perhaps a little prejudice.

That's what I'm supposed to do — write opinion. As a newspaper columnist, I'm allowed fairly free reign when it comes to jousting with coaches and players and fans and issues that constantly arise in the wonderful world of sports.

It's the stuff that makes the world go around. It's what we talk about at work, at the ballpark, at the supper table.

Is it fun? You bet. It's a blast.

Not only do I get to write whatever I want, but the newspaper sends me places to do things I never could have imagined as a little boy growing up in the small South Carolina town of Allendale.

But all those columns, about so many different subjects, have one single thing in common — my name.

Brave new world

An issue arose this week in the brave new world of journalism where people aren't all that brave.

As traditional newspapers strive to capture the attention of an ever-growing computer generation, we have tried various new products and ideas to appeal to this group who, supposedly, do not read the newsprint version of our efforts.

Online, therefore, is the keyword of the future.

Our Web site, Charleston.net, is like many others around the country in that we load it up with everything we produce for our print version, then add some bells and whistles to make it appealing to some 19-year-old out there with nothing else to do.

Over the last decade, we've learned what works and what doesn't work and continue to strive to make our Web site an interactive product that customers and readers can count on.

One of the most recent innovations is the "Comments" section after each story on the Web whereby readers can post their own thoughts about a particular story.

It's kind of in the blog family because people can say pretty much anything they want because they get to hide behind usernames like Batman, Mamasboy or Neverwrong.

Occasionally, somebody will say something worthwhile and make you think. But mostly this is a netherworld called Blogosphere where people in pajamas perpetually vent.

If you've taken the time to read any of these endless "strings" of blather, you know what I mean. Sometimes they make you scared to leave your house.

Slings and arrows

I bring this up because earlier this week a local man was "outed" by the newspaper for some comments he made on our Web site. He thought he had anonymity on his side, which makes us all much braver.

Turns out, there's no such thing as anonymity and this man is now paying the public price of humiliation for letting his fingers do the talking on the Internet.

Which brings us back to column writing. For more than 20 years I've dealt with impassioned people who disagree with things I write. They have sent me unsigned hate mail, disgusting artwork, death threats and verbal slings and arrows because they didn't like something I said about their favorite team.

Some come in the mail. Others are screamed into my voice mail.

The Internet only added to the vitriolic tirades.

What many of these missives have in common, however, is that they are unsigned. Even the e-mailers hide behind some cutesy pen name that boosts their bravery.

So here's the bottom line: If you've got something to say and feel that strongly about it, don't be afraid to put your name on it. I do, and I have been doing it for 20 years.

Reach Ken Burger at kburger@postandcourier.com or (843) 937-5598.