Allow me to slump out of character for a moment. . .
This afternoon, my cat with a bladder infection ran outside and promptly disappeared. She hadn't taken her antibiotics and I was way too concerned to get anything done, so I read some old FreeDarko. Specifically, I took a look back at this momentous post, and other shit we were doing around this time last year. And then, unexpectedly, I got really fucking sad.
The sports blogosphere has grown like a yeti's breath since then. There's money being made, reputations standing tall, and a real sense that we are somebody. I am eternally surprised that I'm able to support myself writing about basketball, seeing as I only picked it up again at age twenty-one. Blogging isn't perfect, but the difference between it and "real" journalism is like working in bed/cubicle life. We're in what they call a growth industry, which means that, barring public humiliation or sexual harassment suit, I might have even more opportunities in the future.
But when I looked back at those older posts, I suddenly realized how much the game done changed. A year ago, there was this whole pistols-at-dawn feel to the blogosphere, where networking and constant exchange came out of mutual respect. I was in touch with a lot of people I admired, and felt like ours was a community forged out of shared ambition and whip-smartness. Now, it's like everyone doing their thing, or I've just gotten that isolated and paranoid. FD itself was more expansive, less conclusive, and I worry, more vital. Sure, half the things we said were stupid or wrong, but there was that itch to both define ourselves through action and flail around in self-reflection. Increasingly, I feel like it's one or the other.
I know some of you (I see you, SML) are going to try and blame this on FanHouse. Wrong, wrong and wrong. If I weren't writing tons of short posts on the NBA, I'd still be doing band previews and restaurant blurbs for cash. Pumping out words is no problem for me, and this basketball stuff is already in my head to begin with. Some of those Longforms I did last spring are as good as anything that's ever been on FreeDarko, and getting paid by a corporation to write uncompromising columns is pretty much the goal of this whole experiment. Plus I do communicate freely with the people I've gotten to know through "work." It has a lot more to do with the overall shift in sports blog culture—the explosion of participants, endless jockeying for position and niche-ifying, the serial link begging that makes me puke, and the fact that, as never before, there's an element of professionalism seeping in. Or maybe it's always been like this, only I managed to avoid it when this was just a hobby.
Look, I'm perfectly willing to admit I might be overcome with nostalgia, or idealizing a time that never really was. I can still write, and get plenty excited to do so on a fairly regular basis; that Marion thing I did yesterday felt right and summed up something I've wondered about for several years now. And I'm sure that, when it comes down it, I'd rather be thinking about my long-term than being everyone's best friend. But I'd seriously like to know if anyone else feels a chill in the air.