I know it has been some time since I bothered to write, but I assure you I am not holding that wool sweater back in 1994 against you. The Herschel Walker football you dropped off in the late 1980s more than makes up for an subsequent mistakes, as it was used to go a Colts-like 34-0 in backyard football.
I write to you today because the situation is dire, and I think you might be the only one who can deliver what I need. As you well know — because I can trace IP addresses and have seen yours frequently — this blog began about three and a half years ago when I first got to Bloomington. To be honest with you — who would ever lie to Santa, anyway? — I didn’t have much of a notion of what blogging was or should be. We just sort of went with it, hopping something would grow.
Luckily, Eric Gordon was indecisive. Our coverage of his waffling drove traffic and began building a small community of loyal commentors. We’d sit in Yogi’s, trying to spy on him as he scanned the menu and contemplated the eternal conundrum: should he upgrade to the buffalo chips? Kelvin Sampson would always be there. But he’d be on the phone a lot. We thought that was strange at the time. We don’t anymore.
The Scoop began to flourish, and I think it found a niche. We were more off beat than the big guys up in Indy. Took ourselves a bit less seriously and weren’t afraid to link to what others were reporting. We got a little bloggy with it, befriending the fine folks at Inside the Hall. Eventually we discovered CoverItLive and began getting together with people from all over the world to talk about the games we covered.
For a young guy who is actually a bit old school, interacting with readers so closely was a revelation. No longer did we need to guess what fans wanted, or assume how best to provide coverage of Indiana. We could just ask. Well, we didn’t even need to. The folks on the Scoop were more than willing to tell us what they thought. It helped our journalism by keeping us accountable. But it was fun, too. I met some of the most passionate and intelligent people, and they gave me a sense of what it meant to cover Indiana basketball.
Not to get too sappy with you — who better to get sappy with than Santa, though? — but the relationships we were building on the Scoop gave the job meaning.
Something has changed, though.
The Scoop is a wasteland, and we’re not having that much fun anymore. Discussing college athletics with passion, nuance and insight has been replaced by a mix of excessive posturing from a few antagonists and sheer lunacy by others.
Here’s the thing, though: I’ve never really wanted to be very strict with moderation. I’m a journalist. Believing that people have the right to share their thoughts is an essential part of my being. Beyond that, I’ve always wanted to cultivate a diverse collection of commentors. The Scoop isn’t supposed to be a stodgy place; it thrives in part because of how connected its readers have made it to the world beyond the fields and courts. I don’t want to choke off creativity. Frankly, I can’t live without a steady diet of Ro*Tel jokes (because a steady diet of actual Ro*Tel would, I think, not be healthy at all.)
But this place needs to be under control again. Indiana fans need to know they can come here for rational discussion of the games they follow. And it’s up to me to be the sheriff and quell the rebellion. I could ban certain IP addresses, or make people register before commenting. We could use Disqus, the way the dudes at ITH do. Maybe it’s time to fold the Scoop in with the rest of our Web site and make people pay for it. Subscribers to HTO are only allowed to have two usernames, and that has brought an increased level of accountability to the discussions there.
See, there’s a lot more that we have to worry about. We’re still putting out a newspaper, and we’ve got the HoosiersHQ site to deal with. The Scoop is worth dedicating a good portion of our resources to but it’s just part of what we do.
So here’s what I’m asking of you: use whatever magic you put on that Herschel Walker football to bring the conversation here under control.
I know you can do it. Because we all know I wasn’t good enough at football to go 34-0 without some magic.
P.S. Don’t bring Dustin any presents.
P.P.S Bring Hugh new hockey skates. Size 10.5. But deliver them to my house.