Earlier this year, I wrote about the Patrick Kane case. Perhaps you heard
When I think about Sports Media Guy in 2015, it's that post - where I excoriated the Buffalo News about how it victim blamed in one of its initial stories about the now-dropped case - that dominates my memory.
To call it the most popular post ever is a cataclysmic understatement.
Before that post, I had about 40,000 unique visitors to my blog in five years. The day it published, I had 45,000 unique visitors.
I doubled my blog's traffic - the entire traffic in the history of my site - in one day.
At last count, that post had 77,000 page views. My next largest has 2,500.
It started reading the Sunday paper on my couch. I remember reading the story about the Kane investigation and my jaw dropping at these paragraphs:
But Croce told The News that he and several of his employees noticed a young woman “hanging all over” Kane at SkyBar for at least two hours that night, putting her hands on his arms and “being very forward, very flirtatious with him.” He said he does not know the woman and does not know her name.
“It was almost like she stationed herself near him and was keeping other women away from him,” Croce said. “I noticed it and kind of laughed about it.”
A bar manager that night also noticed the woman’s behavior with Kane, Croce said.
Croce said the woman and a female friend “followed” Kane as he left the nightclub with a couple of male friends around 3 a.m. last Sunday.
“I don’t know if this is the same woman who made the rape allegation against him,” Croce said. “I only know what I saw that night on my own premises. If you’re going to ask what happened between them after they left that night, how would I know?”
The News could not independently verify whether the woman Croce described is the same woman who made the rape complaint to Hamburg Police.
I'm not the person who finds offense everywhere, but this offended me. It was absolute, 100 percent victim blaming. It was "she led him on/had it coming." It was deplorable.
Later that day, I sat on my deck and wrote the post. I wrote about my relationship with the Buffalo News in an attempt at transparency. I messaged my sister, a reporter there, to tell her that I was crushing her paper on my blog (a courtesy move).
Really quickly, I started getting feedback. Comments. Shares. Private messages of support. I had struck a nerve.
The next morning, I re-shared the post on Twitter. I tend to do this when I write something at night, especially on the weekend. Often times, I will tag people I quote or whom I want to see it. Part of this is wanting to share what I wrote. Part of it is shameless ego. I want to be in the room where it happens, a part of the online sports journalism discussion community.
But this time, I simply shared a quote from the post with the Patrick Kane hashtag.
A few minutes later, I glanced at my TweetDeck and my mentions were blowing up. Bomani Jones from ESPN had retweeted the post (thanks solely to the right hashtag). To his then 200,000-plus followers. Links on Deadspin, Yahoo, Awful Announcing soon followed.
I exhaled. It was gonna be a day.
By late-morning, I shut off comments on the post. Again, on a good day, I get 1-3 comments. On this post, there were more than 60.
I got one comment that was outright misogyny and hate speech. I deleted the comment and shut off comments after that.
I tend not to interact with readers in the comments for three reasons:
One of my rules in life is that I don't argue with people on the Internet.
This is not my job. I teach for a living. In the summer, I'm a full-time dad to a 5-year-old. I don't get paid for this blog (more on this below). So I'm not going to spend time on that part of the site.
It's an old-school newspaper idea of mine, but I like the idea that the readers have the last word in the comments. I have my say with the piece, they have their say in the comments, and it's done.
I took some crap for closing comments on this post. But in all honesty, I was home with my daughter that day. She deserves more than a dad arguing with people on the Internet for free all day.
All day, I received notes from people who saw the post linked on Deadspin or on Yahoo or on Facebook. Many of the notes were ones of encouragement, telling me to keep my head up in the face of all the negative comments.
But truth be told, the negative comments didn't bother me. The guy who called me a gay slur, the British neo-Nazi politician who emailed me to say that my wife would surely be leaving me soon, all the comments, it didn't bother me. I've written enough columns and commentary to be able to take it. Besides, and this will sound arrogant and I'm OK with that ... but I knew I was right. I knew I was right that the News was wrong in this instance. I knew that their writing and reporting was wrong, that it perpetuated a dangerous idea about rape culture.
Also, I was heartened by all the support I received, by how many men read it and agreed that it was bullshit, that we need to call out rape culture and stop this nonsense.
A few months ago, you may remember that I was starting an experiment with trying to make some money off this blog. It was an attempt to make a little dough on the side along with learning the business about online publishing.
I haven't mentioned it since, because ... well, there's been nothing to report. I'm still waiting for my first check from Google Ads. Simply put, I don't get enough traffic to make money off ads. In online publishing, ad revenue typically comes with traffic. To make any kind of dough off this blog, I would have to have a Patrick Kane-esque post almost every day. And that's hard. This post was dumb luck. It wasn't my best writing or best thinking. It was timely, and got noticed by one guy at ESPN.
Ad revenue is a lousy way to try to make money online.
Plus, this blog isn't about making money. When I was trying to, I was posting things half-baked thoughts trying to get traffic, trying to capitalize on what people happened to be talking about that day. I wasn't thinking clearly or finding something interesting to say. I was reacting, reacting, reacting. And that's a terrible way to work. And live.
Kevin Smith tells a story about his making of Zack and Miri Make A Porno. He refers to the famous Wayne Gretzky quote, about skating where the puck is gonna be. For Smith, that movie was him skating where the puck already was. It was him trying to make a Judd Apatow movie. That movie's poor performance led him to the next stage in his career, where he is still successful and happy.
The Day My Blog Became A Thing On The Internet has changed how I view the future of this blog. I still want to respond to things I read that need to be said. I still view this as the column I wrote so many years ago. But I also want to react less and think more. I'm focusing my research more on access in sports journalism, and I'd like to write and think more about that. I'd like to experiment with a lot of the data visualization and reporting tools my students use. I'd like to write more about teaching. The SMG Conversations were a lot of work and didn't bring a lot of traffic, but they were a ton of fun and I'd like to keep doing them.
Rather than trying to force myself into the room where it happens, I want to make my own room as interesting as possible. If people find it, awesome. If not, well, it's fun for me.
John Gruber, very early on in the history of Daring Fireball, wrote that he didn't want to have the biggest audience but the smartest.
I already know I have that. Thanks for reading, whether you're a regular or were one of the many who came to read about Patrick Kane. To more adventures in 2016 ...