A couple of days ago I had more than 15,000 people visit this blog, and I was amazed. A personal record!
Roughly one year ago, when I started this thing, I just wanted a place to vent and think openly. I didn’t want to pull punches or blather on about the brilliant spectacle that is sports. I didn’t want to be anyone’s mouthpiece or spokesperson. Yeah, I wanted to use it to whore books (haven’t quite figured that one out, unfortunately). Mainly, though, I just wanted to write. Long. Short. Whatever.
Not all that long ago, I heard Alan Schwarz, a baseball writer for the New York Times, explain that he views himself as a teacher, and his readers the audience. If he could somehow explain something new to them, well, chalk it up as a success.
Alan’s someone I’ve known for a spell; someone I like. But that statement has long stuck with meâ€”as something I 100 percent disagree with. We in the sports media are not teachers or any sort of educators. Hell, we’re certainly not nearly as important as doctors, tutors, justices, police officers, firemen, paramedics, dancers or hookers. What we areâ€”what we doâ€”is write. It’s can be joyful and fun … certainly provides an escape for readers. But I’ve never looked at writing as a “gift” I’m providing readers. If anything, I’ve received the giftâ€”the opportunity to do this for a living. And the teaching … heck, that’s done by many of the people I’ve interviewed through the years, who take time to explain their lives in detail; to go step by step through their thoughts and actions.
I’m babbling. Point is, if you’re reading this blog, and you continue to read this blog, I am greatly appreciative. And honored.
** Not to pick on Alan, who is good at what he does, but while reading his site, I stumbled upon this: How do you come up with column ideas?Most of the time I ask myself, â€œWhat interests me this week?â€ â€“ and after considering whether anyone else might share that interest (youâ€™d be surprised) I decide to pursue it. It can be a feature on an interesting player, a discussion of some controversy or even a piece of humor. But you must always clear the hurdle of whether the reader will care before moving forward. Another piece of advice I got from my editor in college: â€œDonâ€™t ever do anything anyone else has done before.â€
To be honest, I never think ‘Will the reader care?’ Never, ever, ever. If you believe in the idea, and if you see something in itâ€”go for it. The reader will hopefully catch up later.