Up until the past month, I thought of about 95% of bloggers out there as "wannabe journalists". A thought and an Internet connection does not make you a reporter. Reporters have journalism degrees. Bloggers have an axe to grind and bad hygiene.
Then I lost my job as a reporter, and realized there's probably no way I'm going to be back in a newsroom with full-time employ for quite some time. Writing in this space will at least scratch that itch to be a columnist again.
For nearly 12 years, I had a job I enjoyed doing at the Osceola News-Gazette in Kissimmee (Fla.) covering mostly high school sports, but some other fun things like Houston Astros spring training and the occasional minor-league pro team that would come through town. The toll that office politics and micro-management, plus the 25-mile, 40 to 60-minute commute took was manageable. The tanking economy and industry knocked me to the canvas. On Oct. 14 I was laid off, told it was a function of suffering revenues and not a reflection of my job performance. That's nice to hear, but it's kind of like getting shot by a cop who was aiming at a bad guy.
The newspaper industry is dying. Why? A few factors. We can't put out a paper the way we want anymore. We have to do it the way the public wants it. How's that? You people want your updates five minutes ago, to read it online, and never pay for it. We give away so much content on the Web it's scary. At the same time, merchants don't like buying ads online. They want that tangible newspaper copy they can hold in their hand and say, "There's my ad." And, ad reps say they can't sell the Internet. Well, the guy who figures out how to make money off the Internet will save the newspaper industry. And that guy needs to get the hell to work. (Moral of this paragraph: just go buy the #$%&ing newspaper. Keep a lot of good professional people employed. What's it cost you, 50 cents? Sunday's $1.50 or so but if you can't find coupons on stuff you're buying anyway in there to get that back, you're trying hard to be ignorant.)
With that out of my system, now I focus on clacking out some useful sports thoughts a couple of times a week. I hope I have the kind of thoughts that you'll come here to read. I don't even hedge to fully master what's in a good blog. I read some very good ones. Longtime colleague Dean Hybl has a great one (that I've contributed to, and hope to do so again in the future) called Sports Then And Now.
What I imagine I'll focus on here is what's nearest and dearest to me: my hometown (Philadelphia), my alma mater (UCF) and the Florida teams. Gators, 'Noles, 'Canes ... and this time of year, Bucs, Dolphins, Jags, but plenty on the Eagles. (What was more impressive last night, the Green Birds dismantling of the Cowboys, or that Andy Reid was right on TWO challenges? If the Dolphins could have held on against the Giants...) I have plenty of rants on my Philly teams (I still smolder on the inside about the Phillies demise), as well as Northeastern perspectives, because everyone knows we do everything better up north. (Well, I will give you Southerners the concept of sweet tea.)
What really moved me to start this was the prospect of Saturday's huge LSU-Alabama game, "the SEC Game of the Century of the Week." This one typifies that bill, and I'll be writing about that later this week. Until then, please comment me some feedback, or email me and tell me how wrong I am. I hope this is as fun for you to read as it is for me to write.