(Author’s Note: Because I have been known to pull a trick or two on the readership of this site before, I should preface what follows with an unequivocal statement of intent. This posting is not in jest, but is entirely sincere, and it should be read with the certainty that it is real.)
From 1999 through 2004, I co-hosted, with my brother-in-law, Travis Rice, “The Dawg Show” on Henry County local cable. The title of the show lets you know the subject of the program; each week during football season, Travis and I talked about the Georgia Bulldogs. A fair amount of research and writing went into the show, and, because it was on only in a limited broadcast area, I began turning much of that research and writing into e-mails, which I sent out to a burgeoning group of readers. In due course, Paul Westerdawg of the Georgia Sports Blog came to join that group as a friend of a friend of a friend, and he suggested I start a weblog. This I did in July 2005 at a site called Kyle on Football, and, after being “discovered” by Peter Bean of SB Nation, I began posting here at Dawg Sports on February 22, 2006.
After nearly seven years here at Dawg Sports, and after 14 consecutive seasons of covering Georgia football on television or on the internet, I have decided to bring to a close my time in the blogosphere.
This is not a decision I made lightly, or rashly. I have, in fact, been giving careful and prayerful consideration to this decision for several months. I genuinely wrestled with this choice, in no small part due to my affection for and loyalty to the Dawg Sports community, the Dawg Sports writing staff, and the SB Nation network of sports weblogs. Of particular importance to me were the many comments and e-mails from airmen, sailors, and soldiers stationed far from home who found a connection here to something that brought them comfort while they were serving their country, oftentimes in harm’s way. (Inteljumper, who also saw fit to conclude the chapter of his life connected with this site, at least temporarily, even gave me a poker chip with military significance at one of the Goat Roasts, which I still have.) In the end, though, I decided, not without a great deal of regret, that it is time to impose a term limit upon the mayoralty of the college sports blogosphere . . . or, if you prefer, it is time for me to become known as “Kyle Commenter.”
To be clear, I am not leaving SB Nation to write or broadcast regularly about intercollegiate athletics elsewhere; were I to continue this enterprise, I would do so here. I simply have reached something of a crossroads in my life, which has required a reconsideration of priorities and a recognition that my time and energy are finite resources. Back in October, while I was still struggling to determine what was best for my family and my future, a good-natured Twitter exchange with Brandon of Team Speed Kills produced this friendly retort from the other side:
Brandon is right; there are advantages to youth which no amount of wisdom, experience, or talent can overcome. I recognized that reality long ago, and even expressed it in a poem. For the most part, I have at least a decade on the majority of my coevals in the blogosphere---I am, coincidentally, the same age as Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff---and I have reached a point in my life where, frankly, it shows; though neither of my highly-regarded longtime colleagues was referring to me, even obliquely, I fit both Spencer Hall’s description of a 75-year-old sportswriter and Matt Hinton’s description of “a caveman hurling rocks at the moon,” and, in this transitional time for intercollegiate athletics and the sports media who cover them, I believe it is best for me to hand off the baton after having completed my leg of the race. In his autobiography, Erk Russell wrote: “Would I have accepted the Athens job if I had been 55 instead of 62? Yes.” If I were 34 instead of 44, I’d be staying, but, alas, time waits for no man, including me, and, accordingly, my tenure here as a site manager is nearing its end.
I still enjoy sports blogging more days than I don’t, but there are more days that I don’t enjoy it than there used to be, and I’d rather walk away while I still will be able to look back wistfully and believe that I went out more or less on top of my game, rather than conspicuously in decline. I don’t want my sportswriting to be like the favorite television program you kept watching out of a sense of obligation but wished afterward that you’d abandoned a season or two before it went off the air. If I waited until it became constant drudgery, I would be unable to remember this period of my life fondly, and the quality of the product I offered here would fail to meet both my standards and your expectations. In short, I came to the conclusion that Potter Stewart was right when he said, upon the occasion of his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court at a relatively young age: “I’m a firm believer that it’s better to go too soon than stay too long.”
This thought has been rattling around in the back of my mind for longer than I would care to admit, but it really was brought home to me how sincerely I was considering leaving when, during a particularly stressful time for me, both personally and professionally, my fellow co-authors graciously stepped up and took some of my workload off my hands. The week of the Bulldogs’ game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, NCT took care of Too Much Information, podunkdawg brought you the Mark Richt Victory Watch, and MaconDawg delivered the postgame recap. As a result, for the first time in nearly 15 years, I was able to go to a Georgia football game purely as a fan, with no larger overarching responsibilities arising out of that. I found that I enjoyed that more than I had remembered.
In saying so, I do not mean to poor-mouth sports blogging; I enjoy it, I have found it rewarding, I appreciate the interaction, and it has been a great outlet for me. For those reasons, I thought about merely taking some time off before returning, or remaining and trying to scale back somewhat, but (with apologies for the analogy) I know myself well enough to know that such an attempt would have worked about as well as Urban Meyer trying to coach the Florida Gators with less than his usual intensity. It also would have been unfair to the site’s contributors and readers for me to hold everyone in an is-you-is-or-is-you-ain’t limbo in which indecision reigned. Therefore, I have come to conclude, somewhat sadly but also hopefully, that this particular period of my life has passed, leaving me ready to turn the page and move on to whatever is next. Your understanding of my need to do so is sincerely appreciated.
I wish to stress that this is not the end of Dawg Sports. MaconDawg, who has shared the administrative and authorial duties with me since he joined the site in March 2007, will be taking over as site manager. When I made the decision to leave, MaconDawg was the first person I told, and I asked him if he would consider accepting that responsibility. I am grateful to him for his willingness to do so, because he has been my partner in this enterprise for nearly six years, and there is no one in whom I place greater confidence or trust to succeed me at the helm of Dawg Sports than MaconDawg. Though I am sure he will make suitable moves that reflect his own ideas and style, MaconDawg’s leadership ensures continuity at the site and among the staff in a way no one else’s could, and I trust you will support and assist him as you unfailingly have done for me.
Though I do not intend to deactivate my SB Nation user account following my removal from the top of the masthead, I have decided to stay away from the site for a while once that day comes, in order to allow the transition to occur without my continued presence making it awkward and uncomfortable; I don’t want to be the 800-pound gorilla in the room, as it were. That said, this is not goodbye, at least not yet; there is an “exit strategy” in place, so we still have a few more weeks together here before I move along down the road. We will have time to say farewell at a later date.
For now, though, I wanted all of you to be aware of my decision, and of my reasons for it, so that it would not be a shock when (as I hope you will) you log on one morning and find that I am gone. Though I am certain of the correctness of this decision, I cannot deny that there are aspects of this endeavor that I will miss, some of them a great deal, and the daily interaction with all of you is quite high on that list.