Four years ago today, I published the first two posts on Dear Sports Fan. One, written by my friend, pseudonymously known as Dean Russell Bell, answered the question, “Can you explain the popularity of NASCAR? How can people watch a four hour race?” The second, which I wrote, answered the quite reasonable query, “My friend’s favorite team is out, why is he still watching so much sports?” For the rest of the month, a grand total of 15 people read those posts. The next month, Bell and I were joined by John DeFilippis and Lisa Filipek. We wrote 20 posts that covered topics from the arbitrary nature of basketball fouls to what being offsides means to whether a new father should try to become a sports fan. It was a lot of fun and we were thrilled with the response, not just from our friends and family who followed us on Facebook and Twitter but also from people who went to their computers, wondering something about sports, and found our writing through Google or another search engine. That second month, we got 1,227 views.
Today, Dear Sports Fan is a close to full-time job for me. I publish between two and four posts every day, although I do take weekends. Over four years, the blog has been viewed over 120,000 times and it keeps growing. Last week was my biggest week yet, with over 3,200 views. The traffic is still 90% from search engines although I have a wonderful group of people who interact with me on Facebook, Twitter, and the sports-only social network, Fancred. So both non-sports fans and fans alike enjoy reading our posts. I am thrilled by this discover and am continuing to try to figure out where Dear Sports Fan’s sweet spot is in this diverse audience. One thing is for sure. My passion for sports and desire to make the sports world a friendly, understandable world for everyone who ventures into it remain strong. In just the past couple weeks, here are a few ways in which sports has intersected in my life that have reminded me that the goals of Dear Sports Fan are relevant and worthwhile.
- As a new resident of Boston, I’ve been looking to make new friends and business connections. So, I’ve been going to some Meetup groups. One of them was an entrepreneurs group that met at a candlepin bowling alley. Within five minutes of getting there, I was helping people understand how the scoring worked. After a pleasant evening of networking and bowling, I went home and wrote about how candlepin bowling works. Playing sports can create and cement friendships.
- This week, I am spending some time with a sick relative. She napped most of the day yesterday, and was generally a little bummed out and distracted until late afternoon when her head snapped back and her eyes lit up, “What time is the hockey game tonight?” Following sports can be a passion throughout life.
- Of course, it’s not always smooth. Living with a sports fan, as my girlfriend does (although, to be fair, she is also a sports fan, just one who spends less time watching sports on TV) can be a challenge. And even someone who thinks and writes about how to best cohabitate in a mixed-sports-passion relationship, doesn’t always get it right. Sports can bring people together but it takes thought and care, just like other parts of a romantic, familial, or work-related relationship.
Four years may seem like a long time but I hope it’s just the start of the journey. There’s so much more to explore and explain. In the next few weeks, I’ll be working on hard on the upcoming Women’s Soccer World Cup. The World Cup is an ideal event for Dear Sports Fan. It’s an international event with competition at the very highest level. The U.S. team is a wonderful group of athletes on a mission to recapture the first World Cup Championship since 1999. To date, I’m about half-way through profiling each of the women on the U.S. team (I’m attempting the rare feat of profiling female athletes only as athletes, with no reference to gender or gendered stories). So far, these profiles have been a hit. One athlete, Shannon Boxx, even retweeted my profile of her! This was awesome, because it helped me connect with a group of passionate women’s soccer fans. You can find all of the profiles here. I’m also compiling the material I’ve written over the past four years and creating a series of soccer email courses: Soccer 101, 200 level courses on soccer culture, crime and punishment, events and leagues, and positions, and a 300 level course. Keep an eye out for those in the next couple weeks.
So, happy birthday to me, and thank you for reading, doing social networky things, and above all, asking questions!