Hi there, Dawg fans. With only a few more days until the first game week of the season, this is about the time you might be expecting me to pop my head back up on the blog and start diving into things anew, renewed and excited (or, possibly, filled with existential dread) about the upcoming season. I've already received an inquiry or two, in fact, as to when the first "On Notice" article will go live.
Unfortunately, this season is different. This season, it's just not there for me. As I've been pondering this in my head for the last few months, the phrase I keep coming back to is: I just can't do this right now. For a number of reasons.
I can't do this because, right now, I'm not really "me." After writing on this blog for a number of years, I feel like I have a "voice" in my writing that feels natural. In my mind, I see my voice as being kind of lighthearted, kind of serious (but not too serious), and definitely not taking myself too seriously. I tackle major topics from time to time, but even then, I generally try to inject a little humor, because humor is frequently how I personally connect with people, so I like to try to use it to help connect with readers, too. Even in my "Florida Hate Week" posts, I hope you, as a reader, realize that most of what I'm saying in those things is tongue-in-cheek and mostly humorously-intended, because while I absolutely hate the Florida Gators in an institutional, cheering-for-my-teams athletics sense, I would never, and do never, advocate actual hate in real life.
Getting together, socializing, drinking varying amounts of poor-quality alcohol, and enthusiastically cheering and jeering at each other is fun. It sucks when your team loses, but honestly, when it comes to our brand of college football, the enjoyment of the party surrounding the event is at least equally as important as the result of the event itself, if not more so. But the shared experience is one that reaches beyond even partisan allegiances to an affirmation that we, as a group of individuals, share a bond across sport that cannot be replicated in almost any other arena in life. We, as individuals, are engaged in an exercise that allows us to pit ourselves against "mortal rivals," but that designation is really made in name only. When the game is over, we take off our colors, and we become normal people. Normal people who share a bond that can be celebrated over a beer or a story-telling session, regardless of team affiliations. Sport brings people together... it shouldn't tear them apart.
You might agree with me, or you might not, and that's fine either way. My point is: that's my voice. That's how I write. If I'm not "connected"... if I'm not having fun and enjoying the experience, I'm no longer me, at least in the writing sense.
Another thing I've learned over the years is that, when I'm not in a "me" state of mind, I simply cannot fake it. I've tried several times, sometimes with disastrous/unfortunate results (Warning: NSFW/offensive language). And right now, I'm in about as "not me" a state of mind as it's possible to be.
I can't do this because, right now, it feels like work. I got into this blogging thing because I'm a fan, and because it's fun. Well, it used to be fun. I enjoy getting online with a like-minded community of fans who love Georgia athletics, and I enjoy talking about all the stuff that goes along with Georgia football, gymnastics, and... uh, other stuff that Georgia athletics teams do, too. (Do we still have a basketball program? They still play in the gymnastics arena, right?) This blogging thing is my hobby. My regular day job takes up approximately 126% of my time, and I don't need (and don't want) another one. If it's fun, let's go for it. If not... to be honest, at this point I just can't be bothered. If I want serious work and obligations, I'll just go back to doing my job. This is not my job.
And look, when it comes down to it, right now, watching this Georgia team causes me pain. Like, emotional pain. (And we haven't even played a single game yet!) And I gotta be honest, I have enough emotional pain in my life right now. There's some stuff happening right now in my personal life that's taking up a huge amount of my time and emotional energy, and I refuse to use that as a crutch. It is restricting my free time and my ability to concentrate on stuff that is not absolutely essential, but you always have to make time to do something as a "break" or as a little bit of fun when you can. In spite of all that's going on, I probably do have the time, but I do not have the inclination to deal with the divided shitstorm that surrounds Georgia football and our fans right now.
So... the shitstorm I just mentioned. Let's briefly talk about that, because I don't think that the place I'm in is unique.
The Georgia football program has moved on from Mark Richt, and Mark Richt has moved on from the Georgia football program. Both seem to be doing just fine so far with their new situations, and that's cool. But there are emotional wounds that take time to heal in my psyche. Despite the good early returns in recruiting and good PR in general, I just don't like seeing Kirby Smart step to the podium when the UGA head coach is introduced. I don't have anything personal against the man, and I don't wish him any professional or personal ill. In fact, I hope he wins 10 national championships in Athens, starting in 2016 (and I 100% sincerely mean that). But I just don't like seeing him step to the podium. It makes me uneasy, and a little queasy. It reminds me of the changing priorities in the larger world of college football that have finally come home to roost in Athens.
And since I brought up the name that everybody always seems to have been avoiding every chance they get for the last 9 months, I have to say that the preceding paragraph isn't really that much about Mark Richt himself. I don't worship Mark Richt, and I don't think Georgia football is "lost forever" because he's not here anymore. Georgia football is not Mark Richt, and Mark Richt is not Georgia football (and I originally made that statement back when he was still the head coach).
My problem is with the UGA administration. My problem is with the manner in which the coaching change at Georgia was executed, and the straight-up duplicity and dishonesty with which the firing and hiring process was handled by the athletic director. In some sense, Kirby is just a pawn in the process, and the players themselves are certainly pawns. The deep-seated unease I have with the UGA athletic department is because of the management, not because of the coaches and players. And it hits home that much more strongly to me because I've been a Hartman Fund contributor and a season ticket holder for quite a number of years. I'm financially supporting these people, and I have real, serious reservations with regards to the about-face they've pulled on the way they run their business.
Everybody's chasing the money and the short-term success, and long-term considerations seem like little more than an afterthought. It's nice to be able to do long-term things like helping athletes become better men and women, and to help them position themselves for success over their entire life, not just in sports. But I'm not convinced that it's a priority anymore. To my eyes, it looks like just a nice little PR thing you can trumpet if it's something you happen to have. The actions and decisions made by the UGA administration certainly seem to reflect that stance.
You can say my opinion is illogical and wrong. You can call it irrational. You can say I'm "not a real fan" because I don't automatically 100% embrace Kirby Smart and reject all of the horrible nightmares of the Mark Richt era out of hand. You might point to some schools like Baylor and say, "At least we're still better than those reprobates." Hell, you can say whatever you want to say; this is a free country. But none of that matters. I am, from an emotional standpoint, where I am.
I can't do this because I'm not "all in" anymore, I guess you could say.
But hey, I will eventually get over it. I will eventually deal with the psychological and emotional pain that I see every time Georgia football comes up on my screen. Or who knows, I might not. Contrary to the popular axiom, time only heals some wounds.
But right now, I just can't do this. So I'm going to have to bow out of this upcoming season for now. No preseason hype posts, no "on notice" posts at the beginning of each game week. (From me, anyway. Y'all feel free to pick up the mantle in my absence, if you'd like. It's not my intellectual property or anything. Hell, I
stole appropriated the general format from Colbert.) I might pop up from time to time, and I do still plan to cover the Gym Dogs once again when their season rolls around in a few months. But right now, regarding the situation today, I gotta do this.
I'll see y'all around the bend, friends. Until then...