Two weeks ago, Blazer’s Edge had a poetry contest inspired by author Mark Plumlee’s elegy for departed forward Mario Hezonja, with all his endearing foibles on full display. The piece inspired many verses in the comment section, all of which are worth a read. Thank you to everyone who added their creativity to the project.
One reader, college student Conor Bergin, went a bit farther. On his blog, The (Temporary) College Dropout, he detailed his love for the Trail Blazers, held tightly despite a relocation to Chicago, Illinois, land of the Bulls. He then went on to describe how his passion was echoed and expressed through the work at this site, particularly among readers in the comment section.
Bergin discusses the patterns and rituals of the community, among them beloved Game Day Threads:
Among many site rituals, every game day thread starts with comments saying “Go Blazers!” in as many variations as possible.
When the Blazers are on fire, the site lights up and fans share in their jubilation. When the team is on a cold stretch, the site lights up (a little less) and fans share in their misery. National sports journalist Bill Simmons has even expressed astonishment at the site’s popularity and vehement responses to any outside Blazers criticism.
Conor talks about personal comfort and assurances readers give to each other in hard times, doses of reality, but also lifting up when things get too “doom and gloom”. His thesis rests in a self-contained paragraph that needs no elaboration:
Everybody on BlazersEdge clearly loves the Blazers. It’s a community in the truest sense of the word.
He finishes the piece with his own poem, “To Trade or Not to Trade”, evoking Shakespeare’s familiar line. Seriously, you need to read the whole article to get the scope of it.
Before you do, let me say a word to Conor, and through him, to all of you.
Hi Conor, it’s Dave. I’ve been doing this for a minute now. Since the beginning—which I can now say was when you were a kid, and when I was much closer to being one—I’ve probably penned millions of words about the Blazers. I want to tell you a secret, though. It’s not really about the team. The Blazers are the central subject that brings us together. We need something to unite us, a gravitational body to hold us together. They provide that for us. But really, those words have been as much about us as about them.
The Blazers have been the means through which we’ve celebrated together, grieved together, and everything in between. We’ve gotten jerseys for birthdays, had black-and-red wedding themes, prepared and shared countless appetizers...an entire culture has blossomed. Some are deeper in it than others, but we can all see it and feel the warmth.
Every author that’s come through Blazer’s Edge experiences this. Admittedly, some come looking for a stepping stone, or for a place to promote their own voice. They often get it, but it’s easy to miss the experience that way. Most of the people who stay, who become the familiar names, find joy in expressing their passion with each other and you. That’s the glue that holds the juggernaut together. That’s the ingredient that’s differentiated the site and kept it integral through good times and bad.
Just yesterday, the site Slack channel exploded with a fervent debate over the suitability of James Harden in Portland. It had all the turnbuckle diving and chair-smashing excitement of a WWE match. Staff members kept arriving out of nowhere to join in, like it was the Royal Rumble. About two-thirds of the way through the discussion, somebody said, “I love you all.” We laughed, then sighed, because it was true. Even in the midst of heated debate, that’s what it’s about, even when you’re a staff member. It’s something nobody understands, and almost nobody can duplicate. It makes us who we are.
Every day when I write, more than hoping to be right or popular or whatever I’m supposed to want out of this, I hope that joy and love shows through. I hope it touches somebody out there, like following and writing about the Blazers has touched me. I hope it brings us together.
You’re not the first person to comment on the difference the site has made in your life, but you’ve probably said it the best. I was going to write a piece to fill this slot myself today. I often do on Fridays. Today, Conor, it’s you...front and center. You’re the author. You’re the person being quoted like Bill Simmons or Adrian Wojnarowski. You’re the translator for our passion through your wonderful article. That’s true in little ways every day for all our readers. Today, you represent us, readers and staff alike, explicitly and fully.
Thank you. And thanks to everyone out there like Conor, who comments on features or in the Game Day Threads. You don’t know how big of a difference you make, just by sharing who you are and what you love. You make the millions of words worth it. Together, we light up every darkness, whether that’s for the team or the world.
Blessings, and thanks.