I am back in the saddle after a relaxing vacation, but, before I get caught up on the things I missed while I was away, I have an announcement to make . . . this is my weblogging anniversary!
Today, July 16, is the first anniversary of my inaugural foray into the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere. At my old site, Kyle on Football, my first trio of postings went up one year ago today. In recent days, I have been reproducing postings from my original weblog here at Dawg Sports in commemoration of the occasion.
In some circles, today is known as my "nerdiversary."
I have already expressed my gratitude to many of my fellow intercollegiate athletics webloggers, both at my old site and at this one, so, rather than thank everyone all over again, I would like to take this opportunity to list five things I have learned over the course of the last year that I didn't know twelve months ago:
1. College football fans are just as intense and passionate elsewhere as they are in the South. I always took the view that there was a unique level of enthusiasm for the game in the Old Confederacy . . . Alabama-Auburn, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Florida. There is a Georgia Tech weblog whose nomenclature explicitly is about the fact that its author dislikes Georgia enough to consign the nation's oldest state-chartered university to eternal damnation. In short, I accepted the conventional wisdom that football just didn't mean quite as much in other parts of the country. Now I know better. Such weblogs as Bruins Nation and MGoBlog have made me aware that U.C.L.A. and Michigan are just as disdainful of Southern California and Ohio State, respectively, as I am of Auburn.
If you squint, it looks a lot like the water hose incident at Auburn in 1986.
2. A fellow's rooting interests are affected by his personal friendships. I vaguely became aware of this about 15 years ago, when a friend of mine from high school went off to the University of Washington. When the Huskies went undefeated during the 1991 regular season, I had him go to the campus bookstore in Seattle, buy me a U.W. cap, and send it to me over Christmas so I'd have it to wear when watching the Rose Bowl. Over the course of the 2005 football season, I discovered that games I had always known to be important but in which I had never before had any emotional investment had become contests in which my rooting interests were clear. Because of Brian at MGoBlog, I now actively want Michigan to beat Ohio State; because of Peter at Burnt Orange Nation, it now matters to me whether Texas beats Texas A&M.
3. Contrary to what Bob Ryan may think, the blogosphere is not exclusively the province of people who need to "get a life." In his book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Warren St. John offered substantial anecdotal evidence that people who are passionate about their athletic attachments tend also to be passionate about the other attachments in their lives, as well. While webloggers are portrayed by many mainstream journalists as being singleminded to the point of being obsessed and detached to the point of being antisocial, the reality is that devoted sports fans typically have equally strong commitments to more important matters, as well. Regular readers of Dodgy at Best, Hey Jenny Slater, and Sexy Results!---to cite but three of several readily available examples---know that Kanu, Doug, and Ian are well-rounded individuals who are dedicated to a myriad of meaningful aspects of life outside of their rabid rooting interests in sports.
It's possible to lead a full life outside of college football . . . for example, by posting pictures of Kristin Davis on the internet. O.K., bad example.
4. Fans of other schools are good people, too. Three of Georgia's biggest rivals are Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia Tech, yet I like and respect the proprietors of such weblogs as View From Rocky Top, Swamp Ball, Every Day Should Be Saturday, Golden Tornado, and the aforementioned What's the Good Word? This confirms the truth of an idea I have always had difficulty accepting: a guy can root for a Georgia rival yet still be a good guy . . . unless, of course, he roots for Auburn. (Just kidding, Mark. On the plus side, though, if you're an Auburn football player and you're reading this, you may be eligible to receive course credit for it!)
5. The singer matters as much as the song. I spent much of my career as an active member and alumnus of the Phi Kappa Literary Society fighting against this notion. Phi Kappa is a University of Georgia debating society which was founded in 1820 and to which I have belonged since 1992. When arguing over the issues of the day in the upper chamber of Phi Kappa Hall, I often criticized the notion that the identity of the speaker should have any impact on the listener's evaluation of the merits of his points. It seemed to me that facts were facts, truth was truth, and the right answer was the right answer, regardless of what you happened to think of the person stating the proper position.
While I still believe that view to be correct, it is nevertheless incomplete. We all bring our own backgrounds, biases, experiences, and personalities to bear in evaluating facts we all agree are facts and assessing truths we all believe are true. The Weblogging Disclosure Statement seems to me to be more or less obligatory for anyone who is asking for your trust and respect because matters may look a bit different to two conscientious examiners due to their divergent perspectives.
For instance, I am told that there are some people in the world who do not regard this as the center of the universe. No, I don't understand that way of thinking, either.
The story of the blind men describing the elephant from dissimilar frames of reference is relevant in the blogosphere, where the amount of information available is overwhelming and the speeds at which such data travel are astonishing. Each of us has a unique vision to offer and, like the various characters in Absalom, Absalom! who attempt to tell the story of Thomas Sutpen based upon varying degrees of knowledge and preconceived notions, we all are a part of the tales we tell. That is why the Georgia Sports Blog, Hey Jenny Slater, I'm a Realist, The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers, and Dawg Sports are complements rather than competitors: Paul, Doug, The Realist, L.D., and I---along with a myriad of other Bulldog bloggers in "The Dawgosphere"---all offer an individual viewpoint and the devoted 'Dawg fan who reads us all is far more fully informed than the Georgia man who reads only one of us.
Those are just of a few of the realizations to have dawned on me during my year in the blogosphere. My gratitude goes out to all of those who have encouraged me in this enterprise and, most especially, to all of you who take the time to drop by Dawg Sports on a regular basis.
Coming soon: My take on the Auburn academic scandal.