#WhySports

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It’s been an interesting past week, as I’ve started a freelance project management position with Al Jazeera America’s digital marketing team. And with any new job or significant life change, there’s going to be stress, uncertainty, and a lot of ups and downs. Despite some of the day-to-day craziness and tumult, it’s been a good experience overall and a really fascinating time to be there. (Actually, they’re a lot like a start-up in many ways — perhaps more on this later. Here’s a New Yorker article for context.)

I wondered how The Rundown would fair once I started a full-time job. Somehow, I find myself that much more determined to stick to it. I’ve gone back and forth between grandiose visions and conversations with NBA/MLS marketing personnel, to enjoying it as a simple creative outlet. I do think there would be a market for such a thing and that I’m providing a service to my 39 subscribers. And ultimately, it’s an important and enjoyable project for me too.

Sometimes it’s fun (and useful!) to revisit the reasons for why you do certain things and make certain choices. A little trip down memory lane:

From one of my personal statements when applying to jschool, Fall 2010:

Sports generate a unique kind of energy that pushes athletes to their limits beyond what one would ever think was humanly possible—injured runners crawl to finish lines to avoid disqualification; Olympic gymnasts vault on injured ankles for gold medals; major league pitchers come back from what should be career-ending elbow surgery.  Sports bring out diehard loyalty from fans and cause spectators to lose themselves, completely engrossed in a game.  Sometimes, it seems completely irrational to me, but ultimately, I find it to be one of the most beautiful things to witness.

From my Sports Illustrated internship application, Fall 2011:

The power of sports to inspire and motivate people–athletes or fans– never ceases to amaze me. […] Sports drive people to new heights and push them to their limits. They can be a manifestation of otherwise unseen or untapped drive and emotion that people can relate to and aren’t afraid of sharing.

From a post on a blog I used to write for, Spring 2011 (full post here):

The Grizzlies won their first home playoff game and became only the second No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in a seven-game series. The Hawks and Magic got into feisty battles on and off the court resulting in two ejections and technical and flagrant fouls galore. Amar’e hurt his back, Rose hurt his ankle, CP3 got a triple-double playing with a bandaged hand and patch over his right eye. And it’s only Round 1.

This is what I love about sports. In a sense, every game is the game; every moment is the moment.

Whether it’s a high school field hockey game or the Super Bowl, day after day, athletes put all of their energy, efforts, and heart into a game. They throw themselves out there and allow themselves to be pushed to new limits and reach greater heights.

So I guess that’s #WhySports!

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The economic value of written content

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A few weeks ago, I came across this article on The Awl about freelance rates and the poor ROI of web-based written content — for writers and publishers:

It’s not news that making a living by writing on the Internet is a tough business. Freelancing for websites is nearly unsustainable, especially in the one-off pitch, write and edit sense. But here’s the thing: It rarely makes financial sense for the website, either. This piece alone will almost certainly lose money for The Awl; nearly all the site’s pieces do.

If it’s not worth it financially for the writer or the publisher, why do we do it? Or rather, how do we continue to do it?

Admittedly, there are times when I’m kind of a Debbie Downer about the topic. When I was a kid, I thought it’d be super cool to be a sportswriter and ended up leaving a safe, comfortable job to try my hand at it. But from an economic standpoint, it’s hard to make a living as a writer. And I mean that not just from an hours/workload standpoint, but also from an emotional one: “Really? This thing that took me 10 hours to do is worth 5x this thing that took me 40 hours, 10 cups of coffee, 5 stress-relief trips to the gym, a lot of chocolate and endless phone calls with colleagues/editors?” (The Awl article also had a good point along these lines: “There is a general correlation between good, hard work and success, but it’s not one-to-one.”)

But there are a lot of content-based start-ups alive and kicking — there’s a reason I (and many others) consistently turn to the Greatist, a relatively new health and fitness content-based start-up, over the myriad of fitness sites out there, for example. And for the bad rap that branded content and content marketing get among traditional journalists, Buffer’s blog has become one of my go-to’s. (Actually, check out this somewhat “meta” post on their content marketing strategy.) Granted, I’m not sure what the ROI of content marketing is compared to “traditional” journalism. But my hunch is that marketing $s > advertising $s.

I don’t have it all figured out. But for now, blogging on my own schedule and keeping up with my email newsletter is a nice creative release, without the pressure of trying to make a living from it!