It's the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine

So long, for now. (Photo credit: Robert Dean Lurie.)

On February 22, 2006, I published my first posting at SB Nation's new Georgia Bulldogs weblog, Dawg Sports. On February 22, 2013, I bring to a close seven wonderful years by publishing my last.

The retirement of Kyle King from blogging is the rare feat in sports. Kyle is hanging up his keyboard on his own terms. Only a few people can call it quits while they are in their prime. More people should take a cue from Kyle King and ride off in the sunset before they embarrass themselves.

The Grit Tree (January 16, 2013)

As MaconDawg says, “Maestro, let’s have the soundtrack:”

There we go. Now, to my reason for calling you all here today:

A lot of very thoughtful people wrote many very kind things after I announced that I would be leaving Dawg Sports as a site manager a few weeks ago, and the tributes included a Crock Pot recipe, a ballad, and some nice tweets, including one from a sitting U.S. Congressman and another speculating that I might not actually exist. I was, and remain, truly touched by the outpouring of support and affection. Of all the many words that were written, though, none absolutely nailed my reasons for leaving as precisely as the passage from Corbindawg quoted above.

While I was mulling over my future in the blogosphere, I kept thinking about Muhammad Ali. It is in the nature of sports metaphorically to compress life’s trajectory into so short a span that the rise, prime, and fall through which we all pass in our respective courses appear glaringly evident in the careers of great athletes, whose arcs are writ large with the burning traces of ascent, apex, and descent. So it was with Ali, who could have hung it up after avenging his 1971 loss to Joe Frazier, or after Kinshasa, or after Manila, or after beating Leon Spinks in their rematch. Instead, though, we were left with the images of his losses to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick, and “The Greatest” walked away not at the pinnacle, or anywhere near it, but at his nadir. It was a needlessly sad end to a glorious career.

I, obviously, am far from being the Muhammad Ali of sports blogging, but the lessons to be drawn from the lives of sports superstars are instructive for the rest of us average folks in much more mundane matters; indeed, this resonance is a large part of the appeal of athletics. 2012 was a great year for the Georgia Bulldogs, for Dawg Sports, and for me, as highlighted by my three “UNITE” appearances, and I am acutely conscious of the only direction available to anyone when standing atop a mountain, much as Henry II was aware of what it took “to be a king, alive[,] and fifty all at once” in The Lion in Winter.

I apologize if I sound self-important in saying so; I am attempting not to liken myself to great men, but to pay heed to their example in my own small sphere. While I can’t claim that Herschel Walker has any idea who I am, I nevertheless have poured a great deal of my time, my energy, my passion, and myself into this enterprise since I published my first posting here on February 22, 2006, exactly seven years ago today, so it is with great pride that I confess that I have become convinced of my own obsolescence.

That sounds like a bad thing, but it isn’t. In many ways, the goal of all our lives is to render ourselves, if not useless, at least dispensable. As a lawyer, my objective is either to help my clients plan for the future or to aid in restoring them as nearly as possible to their condition prior to a legal action that was brought or threatened; either way, my goal is to have them leave my office for the final time in a better settled condition than when they entered for the first time. Likewise, my intention as a Christian is to spread the Gospel to others, then to nurture them in that walk until they are able to stand on their own in their relationship with God. Within the walls of my own household, my purpose as a parent is to raise my children in such a way that they will reach adulthood as fully functional independent human beings who are prepared to face the world.

In each instance, the point is to render service in such a way as to make myself no longer mission critical, and we think little of those who succeed in other ways yet fail in this crucial task. What would we think of Christianity today if, after Jesus of Nazareth no longer walked with them, the Disciples had lost their faith and scattered? What would we think of the Founding Fathers if, after winning the Revolutionary War, they had failed in forging a government adequate to sustain the union and allowed the weak independent states to be picked off one by one by foreign powers? Would we remember them at all?

There is a scene in the movie “Broadcast News” in which Holly Hunter’s boss sarcastically says to her, “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.” “No,” she replies sincerely. “It’s awful.” I had the opposite sensation the first time I signed onto Dawg Sports and saw well-written posting after well-written posting published at the site and placed on the front page by someone other than me; had someone then said to me, “It must be lousy to know that the weblog for which you used to be the only author now can get along just fine without you writing a word,” my response would have been: “No, it’s wonderful.” As I said on my last podcast, it has been liberating to know that the community has grown to the point of being able to survive without me. I leave here proud of my service as a member of the team that made Dawg Sports what it is and will continue to be.

Too many other people have contributed to that achievement for me to thank them all here, but a few of the more noteworthy participants in this process deserve special mention. My thanks go out to Paul Westerdawg, for inviting me into the blogosphere; to Peter Bean, for bringing me over to SB Nation; and to Joel Hollingsworth, for his friendship and support as my league manager and immediate supervisor for much of my time with the network. My most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation go out to chuckdawg, DavetheDawg, hailtogeorgia, Ludakit, MaconDawg, Mr. Sanchez, NCT, podunkdawg, RedCrake, Spears, The Quincy Carter of Accountants, and vineyarddawg for their dedication, their hard work, their good humor, their support, and their camaraderie and friendship. Of all the things that I will miss most about sports blogging, the relationships we as a staff have built with one another will be what I cherish the most. I am grateful to them all for making it possible for me to make my exit with complete confidence that what we have created will continue to flourish. Finally, my thanks go out to my family, for their patience and support throughout the time I have spent in this endeavor, and to the Dawg Sports community, as all of you made this fun and worthwhile for me. I am indebted to all of you, more than you will ever know.

More than one person has asked where I plan to go from here. Honestly, there’s only so far I have thought that question through, but the short version is this: I’m going to go to a game, and cheer for the ‘Dawgs without any responsibility in the matter apart from being a devoted fan; I’m going to go home, and spend time with my children while my laptop remains in its carrying case; I’m going to go to work, and concentrate on my professional life without being interrupted by breaking news in the middle of the workday; I’m going to go to church, and take part in worship without reflecting on the week’s posting schedule; I’m going to go on a date with my wife, and not worry about checking the live scoring on that evening’s Georgia sporting event; I’m going to go to the couch, and lie down to relax with a good book; I may not go anywhere at all, inasmuch as I’m putting a great deal of effort into learning just to be. I hope that makes sense; I’m sorry if it doesn’t.

What I hope is clear from the above examples is that, ultimately, this really is not about sports blogging at all; it is about my need, at this stage of my life, to recharge, to reassess, to renew. Toward that end, in order that my last word might truly serve as my last word, I have opted to close the comments on this posting from the outset, lest I be thought rude by not replying to any responses that might be left. My e-mail address appears on my user profile, and anyone who is so inclined may contact me by that means, but I wanted to be able to post this farewell and walk away for a while, in order to allow the transition to occur without the awkwardness and distraction of my continued presence. At some point, after everything has gotten settled for all of us, I plan to return as just another member of the community, though I’m not sure when. For a while, and for the first time in too long a while, and maybe for the first time ever, I intend to take life as it comes and float where the current carries me.

In his farewell address to the White House staff, Richard Nixon acknowledged one of the few failings of the otherwise robust and refined English language when he said: “You are here to say goodbye to us, and we don’t have a good word for it in English. The best is au revoir. We’ll see you again.” Our paths will cross at a later date, but, in the meantime, take care, be good to yourselves, be good to each other, and, ever and always, go ‘Dawgs.

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