Monday, February 4, 2013

Closing Down the Blog

The 2012 season has come to a close, and there's no way to view it as anything but a whopping success for the Seattle Seahawks. Against all seeming odds, we have found our quarterback of the future. We have a defense loaded with talent. Our offense is well-defined and resilient. And both sides of the ball are still on the way up, with our team philosophy firmly in place.

It's a great note on which to end my brief career as a football blogger.

Every once in a while, it's good to take note of what you're doing and ask whether you're making the most of your time and talent. The world is a struggling place, and needs each one of us to be exactly who we are, in the best manner we can manage. Perhaps that sentence makes football bloggers sound superfluous, but I don't think it has to be that way. Guys like the ones at Fieldgulls obviously have a life beyond football. They're contributing. Football is a passion for them that moves them to write, elevates others' thinking, lets us support our team and our cause in a smart and well-informed way.

But when I started asking myself questions about maximizing my time and resources, my answers didn't fall in the same place. I'm a teacher. If there's one area of education that we could address before reflexively looking to blame government and money allocation, it would be teacher work ethic. The profession is filled with teachers who are checked out, phoning it in, going through the motions. They are shortchanging students of their highest potential and making harder the jobs of every teacher who comes after them. These kids are our country's future.

Allow me a moment on the soapbox: if you are a teacher who's merely a placeholder and has no real interest in the dozens of children under your charge, then you need to get out. Now. It doesn't matter how hard it would be for you to find another job - the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Step aside and allow your job to be filled by someone who loves children, believes in their subject, and has the patience and generosity to walk with them and turn them into the best they can be.

That's my calling. And when it comes right down to it, I have neither the time nor the football knowledge to justify continuing this blog.

I honestly don't know much about football. I really don't. That's not a diss on myself, and it's not fishing for reassurance. It's just a fact. I'm fine with not knowing much. What I do know comes from reading others. And one thing I don't want to be is a guy who's writing about his level, even if he can disguise it with his writing. Occasionally I'll have a perspective that nobody has yet touched, and can be written without a great deal of X's and O's. Those are my articles. But with the proliferation of new blogs and the riches of knowledge from others within the Seahawks blogosphere, those moments seem to become rarer and rarer. And I'm okay with that. As long as the thoughts are out there, does it matter who writes them?

To be a quality blogger - and that's what I'd want to be if I were to keep doing this - you have to be a certain sort of person. You have to be a quick researcher. You must be able to dash off a well-supported, knowledgeable essay without taking days to write it. I'm not that sort. I start a piece with good intentions, take hours to write it, go back over it the next day, rewrite it at least twice, find new information that supports or contradicts my piece, rewrite it again, pull my hair out, and by the time I've gotten close to publishing, the entire week has gone by, everyone else has already talked about it, and posting it would seem lame and out-of-touch. Such is the fast-paced world of internet opinion. Perfectionists have no place in the world of blogging.

You also have to have a certain objectivity, the ability to criticize football players who are working harder than any of us to achieve a dream that none of us could ever hope to achieve, along with that subtle dash of feigned world-weary snark that fleshes out your writing personality. I realized at some point this season that I don't want to be that guy. I'm too sentimental. Too longing. I wouldn't have the strength to be on the other end of the withering demands of football critics. I don't want to relish that tiny grin of sarcastic delight in blithely dismissing those fringe players laboring through the preseason for a spot only one of them, at most, can grab. And if I wouldn't want to be on the other end, I can't in good conscience stay on this one. That's for the people who can console themselves that those roster cuts will find other jobs and be perfectly fine. Hard for me to remember that, for some reason.

I pondered all that this season and gradually realized that nothing in my internal monologue was pointing towards me as a long-term blogger. There was also the dawning realization of just how hard one has to work to achieve real profile as a sports critic - the regularity of posting, the demands of solid research, the networking and living on Twitter, the near-shameless self-promotion that turns bloggers into helpless self-retweeters who have no dignity but can't get any visibility any other way. That's how it has to happen, and I just realized I have no interest in it. Call it pride, call it laziness, call it lack of time management, call it I have a job, whatever. But I took one look at it and it turned me off to blogging as a side career.

Not that having 600 followers and even more readers isn't worth it. You guys have been great. Wonderfully supportive even in my retarded moments. You've convinced me that I have a future in writing, even if it won't be in football (I may actually be starting another blog soon, this one revolving around Christianity, if you're into that sort of thing). I think I've carved out my little niche in the blogosphere, and am proud of the moments worth being proud of. It's just not fair keeping all of you guys on tenterhooks while I struggle to come up with a blogging voice that's probably just not going to come.

The 2012 season has been a great ride. It's restored my hope in the Seahawks. It's seen the return of competitive balance in the NFL. The run still matters. Defense still matters. There's still plenty of room for innovation. I can't tell you how reassuring it's been to have my fears averted. The Seahawks are going to be around for a long time. What a great future the 12th Man has.

And I will be sharing it with you. 17 Power is closing down, but I'll be lurking around and rooting with you. Maybe on Twitter. I do see a Lombardi trophy in our future, and I hope to see you around in the moment Russell Wilson hoists it up.

Until then, don't let anyone tell you the odds. When you're cringing and peeking through your fingers with dreadful certainty of defeat, when hope is hard to cling to and seems to teeter on the edge of your long-earned cynicism, remember that you never know when some dude on the sidelines might call "17 Power". So long.