Getting personal for a bit, though it’s also about the state of this blog …
If ever there was a day to question my life, it was today. The B-52s and Squeeze were playing 2.5 miles from my house. I drove past twice on a parent-related errand. What the heck am I doing with my life? Why am I driving past two great bands for some humdrum suburban activity?
But when I left USA TODAY two years ago, it wasn’t to see the B-52s and Squeeze. It was family time. It was project time.
Then some terrific opportunities came along. I wrote a lot for USA TODAY’s magazine group. And espnW called out of the blue and offered me some Women’s World Cup work in Germany. That turned into about nine months of truly rewarding reporting in women’s soccer.
This year, WPS is gone. And the Olympics is a different animal.
If I had my way, I’d be boarding a plane for London sometime in the next few days. I don’t think I have to do much more to prove that you can drop me anywhere Olympians are competing, and I’ll come back with good stories both expected and unexpected. (And to think I hadn’t even put “interview the president of Iceland” on my bucket list.)
But alas, I’m not going. I’m not even working for employers I might have expected one or two years ago. I can list several reasons why that happened. Freelance money has dried up in a few places. Other places aren’t so willing to jump through the hoops for freelancers to travel. One situation was either a simple misunderstanding or malignant neglect, and it’s not really worth it for me to figure out which it was. And it’s not all on the employers — I wasn’t willing to consider an extended gig so I could make the trip. Go back to the first reason for leaving USA TODAY: “family time.” We can swing a couple of weeks away. Anything else is pushing it.
So that’s what I’m not doing this summer. That leads to the question I’ve heard a few times in recent days: “You’re doing what?”
Four things, and they all deserve some explanation:
1. Trapit. (see trap.it) Coincidentally, my new robot overlords got a bit of pub today with the release of their iPad app. I’ve seen a few descriptions of the service — “a hybrid between a search engine and a recommendation site” is in the link I just posted — but I think of it as a really, really intelligent search engine. Ideally, you’ll set up search terms — or “traps” — and you’ll get the best/most recent stuff available without all the nonsense you get in more general searches. It’s almost like Pandora for the whole Web. You say what interests you, and that gets refined as you use your electronic thumbs. My work here (temporary, through the Olympics) will be somewhat behind the scenes, but I’m pleased with it, and it’s a good use of my expertise.
2. Bleacher Report (see the Hope Solo story). The reputation may be “anything goes.” But B/R has taken some big steps, especially the hiring of the most excellent King Kaufman to spread some journalistic wisdom among the contributors, toward getting its content to be as solid as its site architecture and search-engine optimization. (Those big terms basically mean the site is really easy to use, and its stories pop up a lot at Google.) My first impressions of the organization from the inside are overwhelmingly positive.
And the bottom line is this: They want to do the Olympics right. I want to do the Olympics right. Any questions?
3. Popdose (see the Tour de France story). This is basically a community of people who are really far too cool to be hanging out with sports journalists. But they let me write for them anyway, and I hope to take them up on the invitation from time to time.
4. SportsMyriad. You don’t have to be named Alanis to find this ironic: While I’m getting all this other work with intense deadlines, my dear old blog has taken off. But that’s good.
I plan to segue into Phase 2 of this blog after the Games. I’d like to bring on some contributors to serve two goals: Give readers one-stop shopping for all the niche sports that are undercovered elsewhere, and give writers a chance to develop and show off their expertise. I’ve noticed over the last couple of years that Soccer By Ives has helped a few upstart reporters get some exposure, and I’d love to do that here to find the next great gymnastics or curling writer. Maybe I’ll even get some veterans who are willing to write for exposure.
Or (and?) maybe I’ll actually try to monetize this thing beyond the Amazon and Google links.
In any case — yes, I’ll be getting back to the medal projections in the morning. Five more to go, and then I can update the big table. And get some sleep.
And then finish my danged book on The Ultimate Fighter. If you have a message from me about that, don’t think you’re off the hook.