One of our fine readers e-mailed and suggested that I do a piece on what it's like to do the blog, especially when things get "frisky", so to speak. I think the general idea was to share the highs and lows and such.
Frankly I usually resist such things because I've always operated on the premise that the site isn't about me. I have been disappointed with sports media in the last decade or so specifically because it has become so personality-oriented. It doesn't matter so much what's said, it's who's saying it and how that counts. One only has to listen to Stephen A. Smith braying incessantly to see what I mean. This blog isn't about me and never will be about me. It's about the Blazers and Blazer fans.
However given that we've talked so much about conversational parameters, conflict, and fair discussion in the past few months I thought at least this much sharing would be helpful.
Honestly it isn't always easy to do the blog or to be in conversation. Whenever you speak in public you're putting yourself out there. When I do a basically positive piece some folks are going to say it's too pie-in-the-sky. If I have some critcisms other folks are going to say I have a negative outlook. No matter what I say people are going to characterize it and classify it because you just can't talk to people in our society today unless you figure out what they are. People can't just be people with opinions and ideas that should be examined and discussed on their own merits. They have to be "conservative" or "liberal", "in" or "out", or whatever the dichotomy du jour is. God forbid you should make a nuanced point. It'll probably get lost behind the labels. Often times it seems people don't want to hear what you have to say. Rather they want to categorize you as quickly as possible so they don't have to bother hearing what you have to say. This is typical of our society as a whole (look at what passes for news coverage of politics nowadays, for instance) and online conversation is hardly immune.
I've heard people say I write certain things just to get a rise out of people and thus more readership. I've heard people say that I don't write certain things because I don't want to offend my readership, or at least certain parts of it. I've heard people say I do things so I can attract advertisers. Really all I've ever done is try to do the best blog I know how, to write as honestly and openly as I know how, and to make this place as accessible and friendly as possible for any Blazer or NBA fan who wants to be here no matter what their outlook.
So I guess my e-mailing friend was right that there are frustrations. But really I'm not complaining. I listed them out for a specific purpose...so you will know what I mean when I say this:
All of it put together isn't even a speck when set beside the wonderful rewards of being here and doing this. The frustrations are amazingly minimal for an enterprise of this size and for a topic so passionate and arguable. The great comments, the stimulating conversation, the good energy of this place outweigh the bumps in the road a hundredfold. It always has, it always will.
Remembering that helps me be gracious even in the face of occasional graceless comments. Remembering that helps me rejoice when people differ from me--enjoying the conversation and the argument instead of resenting it. (It would be pretty dull if everybody in the world said, "Yup! 'Nuff said." Debate is half the fun of being a fan!) Remembering that lets me be comfortable with letting someone else have the last word in the conversation. Remembering that helps me see the best in what people are trying to say instead of assuming the worst. Remembering that gives me that little thrill of excitement every time I click on Blazersedge...wondering what will be new today. And there's always something new.
The wonderful conversation and the chance to be Blazer fans together are amazing rewards for just being here and typing a little. For someone who's been Blazer fan since I was a kid I can't think of many things better.
My hope is that my saying all that out loud will help you also when you feel slighted or tense or misunderstood by somebody's comments. It's going to happen. But it's not really that bad. It won't really break things unless you let it. And why bother letting it when there's so much else to do and hear and say?
If there's one thing I've learned about sports it's this: Sports isn't about balls or scores or arenas or plays. Sports is about people. It's about people getting together, having a common focus, believing, experiencing, and enjoying. Without the people who surround it--the players, the office folks, the fans, the city--it doesn't mean anything.
This blog is the same way. It's about people. It's about believing in something. It's about being together. Without those things the most insightful analysis on the planet means nothing.
I'll never forget the moment I knew that we really had something here. It was quite a few months ago. I don't remember who actually made the comment but I remember reading it clear as day. It was in a diary. The comment said, "Hey...I apologize. I didn't say what I wanted to say there. This is what I meant..." It was simple, sincere, and honest. Several people have said the same thing since. But when I read it the very first time I got really happy because you know what? People don't say that to people, or in places, that they don't care about. 90% of online conversation is completely anonymous and sadly meaningless. That's the moment I knew we were different. That's the moment I knew this place was real.
Caring a lot about the team, about the city, and about other fans has always been a hallmark of Blazermania. When I read the comments here, that kind and all the wonderful conversation besides, that's when I know the Blazermania I've known and loved is back. The Blazers are certainly its focal point but it's not just about the team. It's about us and what we do because of our mutual love of the team. That's the way it's always been. And it's just as powerful as it ever was.
Thanks for the questions and the comments. And thanks for being willing to be a part of this. It continues to be a wonderful ride and it will only get better.