Dreams and Hangups
When I was as young as 19, I had a feeling that sports writing was going to be a passion for me. I had always been a fairly smart sports fan in my estimation. I can still remember studying for some high school finals while the Mets let Edgardo Alfonzo walk and signed Tom Glavine, and thinking what a damn travesty of a decision that was. Then watching 2003 opening day via MLB Gameday in a computer lab while Glavine got torched in his Mets debut by Corey Patterson. I’d watched from afar as people like Aaron Gleeman climbed the rung from anonymous sports blogger to semi-known sports blogger to website content writer, and I thought “one day that will be me.”
Me and a few close friends had started a site called Future Considerations (see sidebar) and started pumping out some quality work. We got some Deadspin links, I think around four or five of them. I wound up doing MetsGeek (again, see sidebar) for a little while, and eventually the combination of SB Nation’s growth with Amazin Avenue, the 2007 collapse, and my own haze of personal drama and questioning led me to hit the sidelines of sports writing and miss out on some pretty great opportunities.
I guess the one thing that kept me from going full throttle towards sports internet/journalism guy was the lack of a bigger purpose. The more I learned about it, the worse it seemed to get. When I was a child and knew nothing about sports but the players, the rules, and the competition, I felt a lot better about the situation. The older I got, the more I learned about what a creative trap sports is. You’re shelling out millions more than the players make to line the pockets of the already rich, who, by the way, extort stadiums out of every major city in America. The entire sports industry is smothered in nepotism, traditionalism, and greed. Fans are given the middle finger at almost every opportunity, asides from carefully crafted PR stunts where people pretend like they give a damn. You put your heart and soul into cheering on something you have no influence over; something that could be incredibly retarded to common sense, like the Kansas City Royals. What sense does this make? You might as well pick a corporation and root for it to go up on the stock market.
Then to top it off, there’s the question of why, exactly, sports matters. Oh sure, theres the feeling of “togetherness” in fandom, and theres the joy of say, rooting on your country in the World Cup. But don’t tell me that this brings people together and act like this is a great thing. Lots of things bring people together. Communism brought people together. Protests bring people together. I bring people together to play Monopoly. It doesn’t cost the same constant effort and money that sports does to bring people together. In the end, sports really donates nothing in the way of goodness to mankind that couldn’t be found elsewhere at a lower price. It isn’t solving any of the world’s problems, that’s for sure.
So an industry built on exploitation and a product that does nothing to better the world. Why would anyone want to get involved in something like this? At times I’ve felt guilty (and some of my friends/relatives/acquaintances have made me feel the same way) for spending such an amount of time on something that, admittedly, doesn’t further much in the world. So I sort of drifted on and on. I had some mini-comebacks, but for the most part, I was content to let the dream fade and try to come up with something else. Maybe I could be a serious writer and send stories to snobby literary magazines and no one would know what the hell I was talking about.
But I guess somewhere along the way, I figured out that it really has nothing to do with what you surround yourself with. Right now I have a pretty good family, a supportive partner, a few friends that I trust. It doesn’t make me a better person; my moral compass was decided a long time ago. You can find stories of metaphorical roses growing out of turds from the beginning of recorded history to present day. Just because I find work in a field like this doesn’t mean that I am going to fall prey to the kinds of cycles that define the field.
I hate tooting my own horn, but I’m damn good at sports writing. I enjoy sports. I don’t enjoy that someone is making money off of them, but that’s okay. I enjoy analyzing and strategy, I enjoy the athletic muscle memory it takes for a supremely talented athlete to destroy a fastball and send it 450 feet away. I don’t enjoy that said athlete may have used 800 chemicals to themselves to get that way, but that doesn’t really bother me like it bothers some people. I’ve reached a place where I know that sports is a logistical fraud, but I enjoy myself in it anyway.
I like to make people think. I like crafting a comparison that makes someone laugh. I like the escapism of drowning the mundane and irritating tidbits of life away for a few hours and enjoying competition between the strongest and the toughest we can find. I don’t like that some people turn sports into a testing ground for their morals and beliefs, but that’s okay. I happen to think my way of enjoying sports is more pure than that.
And if that means I’m wasting my talents, then so be it. This is what I want to do, and this is what I’m good at.