Reflections from Vacation

Boy, you leave for a few days for a vacation to Portland and the coast and everything changes! When I last signed on to Blazersedge Nicolas Batum was in the middle of six dozen trade scenarios, people were openly doubting Damian Lillard's fitness to play in the league, and Portland's roster consisted of, like, four people. Now Batum is a Blazer, Lillard is a Summer League All-Star, and Portland's roster is all but full. (Though cynics would no doubt argue that it still consists of four people you're actually happy to see...)

We will talk about all of this and more in the coming days, but upon returning I want to share a few reflections garnered during my vacation. These are more about Blazersedge itself than the Blazers, but still instructive.

1. Over the last 10 days I've been in the odd position of being a reader/consumer of Blazersedge rather than an author and manager. I promised myself I wouldn't write and wouldn't comment. To the extent I did visit the site it was just to check in on the news because I was interested. My lasting impression from that experience is what an amazing staff we have here. Between Ben's on-site reports and interviews and Timmay's recaps and analysis, I felt like I was actually experiencing Summer League. All of your comments and conversation salted around the edges made the story complete. It's hard to be in awe of something when you're working on it daily but I am in awe now. Thanks to everyone who makes this site what it is.

2. Wearing Blazersedge swag around town I actually had 3-4 people stop me to chat about the site. I suppose being on YouTube a little makes the face go with the shirt, as this was a fairly new experience for me. It was cool, and thanks to the folks who decided not to be shy. The story I heard repeated, besides how cool the site is, was one of sustenance. Plenty of folks are far flung from their origins and families. Plenty of folks feel like Blazer fans on their own island. Plenty of people are going through tough times and basketball is their refuge. These are the stories people shared, not just about the team but about how much this site keeps them going. We're honored. We're not going anywhere. I've been stuck in far-flung places (notably Minneapolis) and I've been through hard times too. That's part of what this site is for. That's why we do it every day. 24/7, 365 days a year, you can find something here. Giving you a chance to experience and add to that something is why we do what we do. Talking to every one of you is a privilege.

3. Other than checking in on Blazers news here, I vowed that my hiatus would be sports-free. I didn't watch any sports on TV. I listened to no sports-talk radio. Stuck on the Banfield, Sunset, and I-5, however, I did flip the radio dial through some other stations. One afternoon I landed on a guy I hadn't heard before. I won't mention names or stations because the individual show isn't the point and frankly I don't want it to get any more attention than it has. This guy was saying some of the most awful, hurtful, damaging, and crass things in order to make his point. I actually agreed with some of the things he claimed as underlying principles but he seemed willing to degrade or demean anyone in the process of getting his ignorance on the air. Nobody knows, of course, whether such guys are really that extreme or whether they're fishing for ratings, but either way the effect is the same. I listened for about 40 minutes and then switched the station, never to return to that show.

Every once in a while we get accused of saying or creating things just to get attention or readers. I can tell you with confidence that we have never seen that as a means of growth. In fact you lose credibility when you engage in those practices and the kind of readers you end up with are the kind you wouldn't want. As I switched that radio dial I promised myself that I'd reaffirm publicly that being provocative and damaging for cheap ratings will never be our policy. You may not agree with everything I say, but if I say something it's because that's the best, truest analysis I can give at the moment, popular or not, titillating or totally down the middle. I cannot tell you how much the idea of doing anything else repulses me.

4. Someone pulled me aside and said they knew someone who was far afield and a complete Blazers fan, but they didn't know if that person would fit on the site. They wanted to know if Blazersedge was OK for a 14-year old to read. The bulk of our readers and comment-leaving folks are adults, but we do have our share of high school students around already. I didn't want to promise that every word of mine or anybody else's would be considered appropriate at all times and places for someone who was 14. You can't in a community this diverse. But in general, I said yes...they could feel welcome here just as much as any other Blazers fan. Providing a place for the next generation--not just of Blazers fans but of people who will want to participate in public discourse--is part of the trust we have here. If you wonder why we try to keep conversational standards fairly high, being able to say "yes" is a big part of it.

None of these things happens in a vacuum. Returning now, I am reminded of how much we need you helping to make the site great. This happens naturally when you read and discuss. Please help us maintain our standards by having a care for the people around you as you do. Conversation works best when you talk about basketball instead of insulting the people around you, when debate is both spirited and fair. One of the things I love about the pretty little beach we visit is that it's not your typical tourist trap. Everyone who comes seems to know it's special. They smile at each other and chat as they pass. We went an entire week without seeing a single piece of litter. It's special not just because of its location, but because of the people who take care of it. Consider Blazersedge your beach in this sense. The waves of Blazers news and analysis will keep coming in. Play together, appreciate it, and leave each day better than you found it so we can all enjoy the marvelous experience we've come to expect here...and so each new visitor can find a home as well.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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