In the late 1990s, football talk – the good stuff – was usually found on Usenet, in places like alt.sports.football.pro.dallas-cowboys. There were some smart people there. Guys like Larry Cottrill (i.e. Silverbear), Adam JT13 and the phenomenal Chris Warner would offer their opinions. Though it was something of a madhouse at times, you usually could glean something useful from all the posts there. Further, if you posted, you usually didn’t have to defend the very fact of your posting.
Around the mid 2000s, trash posting on places like Usenet began to reduce those places to uselessness. There are some Usenet groups that are still useful. Usually those are moderated groups. But guys like Larry Cottrill, Adam JT13, and the fellow now known as Wick migrated off Usenet as their primary posting medium and onto the forums. In general I’ve found forums not as incisive or as clever as Usenet used to be, even back in the day. And the more days drag on, the more I’m finding forums to be more and more useless as a place to develop an idea, build an identity.
I food blog these days. I’ve been doing it for 2 years. It took a year to build a bit of readership of my food blog, but I did, and at this point, I can’t ever see going back to a forum to post anything too edgy, too cutting edge on food. The basic issue are the hundreds of divergent views that collide on forums, and the general thoroughgoing rudeness of forum dwellers towards their peers. In areas that are known to house marked disagreements, such as the character and nature of barbecue, these guys won’t let anyone else have an opinion. Only theirs counts, and if you disagree, they treat you as if you’re less than an idiot.
This is becoming more and more true on football forums as well. Only one opinion matters. Any other opinion is foolish. Being in any sense opinionated, or having a view not held by some self appointed majority is the source of an immediate brawl. Further, the very nature of forums, to react to really off beat comments and speculation, means they can spend thousands of messages and thousands of man hours on intellectual drek, which washes out small, modest, clever contributions.
Guys like Larry Cottrill, guys like InmanRoshi, guys like Adam JT13 are less and less valued. No one bothers to remember what they’ve said. Whole arguments get started because people can’t remember what these guys have posted and argued in the past, and so passing through blog posts becomes a brain-punishing torture. Hasn’t this already been argued a hundred times before?
I think the take home is, forums are a lost cause for any kind of subtle argument. Joe Poster simply won’t allow anyone to develop a subtle argument, much less a contrary argument. If it isn’t plain and obvious to the most common user on the Internet, it won’t be allowed to exist. And God forbid if you make reference to a post even a few weeks old. No one will bother to remember it.
So this blog exists so I can say something even moderately controversial without having to fight 100 assorted football nuts, so that I can post about football code without a collective yawn, so that I can do some deeper analysis before some denizen of Redneckistan tells me I’m wrong in ways that disrupt the whole thought process before it can get started. Using another metaphor, the modern football forum is at best a very sloppy Yellow Pages. A blog is more akin to a book. No one reads Yellow Pages to get a deep understanding of anything. Books are read to edify. And books, unlike chaotic multiple endeavors like forums, have a single unifying author or editor. And perhaps, in the process, I can rescue the thoughts, arguments, documents, pictures, diagrams, etc, that I’ve left on forums that otherwise would be forgotten to the ends of time.
The focus of the blog will be football talk of a deeper nature than standard forum fare. We’ll talk about and review football books. Also, coding tools that allow the active fan to dig a little deeper into stats will be featured. We’ll look at sites that offer stats, places to find analysis tools. Open source code and free tools will be favored over anything purchased.
To note, this is the blog of an amateur, oriented towards other amateurs. How it turns out, I don’t know. But something, anything, has to be better than the deeply disappointing and dissatisfying product they call football forums these days.