Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sorry I'm Not Sorry

Today marks TYT's second birthday. It's been a ride, that's for certain.

On some fundamental level, I'm still the same guy who started this mess. That's not to say that I haven't changed at all, I have. Sometimes drastically. As I've gained readership, I've dialed back the sarcasm a bit. That's not to say that it doesn't pop up here and there, obviously it does. But I've presented things in a much more "mainstream acceptable" format most of the time. It wasn't a conscious decision I made, and neither was my steadily-increasing amount of content.

George Saad's (sitting) OT winner in the Friday matchup with UCO was the easy highlight of TYT's first weekend in business. Photo: Christine Reckner/Collegian

My first game "recap" was published on TYT's first day, covering the Icers' games on October 15th and 16th, 2010 against Central Oklahoma. It went up on the following Monday and was a relatively brief set of thoughts about what I saw from the two games, taken together. The difference between that and my most recent game coverage, which included a live blog, a photo gallery and videos of postgame comments, is quite striking. Is it better now? It's more, that's for sure. Re-reading the older post now, I think my observational abilities have dulled quite a bit in favor of the constant typing to ensure that I don't leave dead air in the live blog. I'm certainly more thorough than I ever planned with my gameday stuff. The original plan was to watch the games just as I would anyway, then toss something up with about as much preparation behind it as a message board post.

If I could offer advice to bloggers starting up it would be to, above all else, make sure you're having fun. This is a hobby, after all. One way that "fun" rapidly becomes something else is through the volume creep that I've allowed to happen. That's not to say that this isn't still fun for me - I'd quit if it wasn't, this isn't my livelihood - but it's certainly more stressful and entails more responsibility and expense than I ever planned. It's a ton more work than I expected too. Consider my very first post:
I don’t aim to be purely a news source for Penn State hockey, because quite frankly, I can’t compete with Penn State hockey’s tremendous official site, the fantastic View From The Booth blog done by broadcaster Steve Penstone, or the great coverage from the Collegian. I highly recommend any of those sources, they’re as good as you’ll find in their respective areas.
I hope to add my own unique views on Penn State, hockey, and life as a guy pretty well obsessed with those two things. There will be that trademark blogger snark on occasion, although most posts will not in fact be written while in my parents’ basement in my underwear. I’ll talk about the games themselves, although probably not in journalistically-correct recap form. When something happens off the ice, I’ll talk about that too, although I can pretty much promise that I won’t be the one to break the story. In between, I’ll mix in a healthy dose of perspective, some glimpses into some of my memorabilia collection, and a few other regular features.
Yikes. I'm not quite sure how I got from there to here, but that's precisely my point.

After hitting on it sporadically in year one (mostly through the World University Games), I began covering women's hockey regularly last season. Sometime in the middle of last season, I ramped up what I was doing with the ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions, and I've been with the women's ACHA D2 team as it started up this season. Those have been three of the best decisions I've made. My stats say that you guys don't care about any of that as much as the men's NCAA team, but I'm not going to apologize for continuing to post about those three teams, because they deserve it. Yeah, I suppose you can argue that it's been a big part of that volume creep I just lamented, but at the same time, I enjoy doing it much more than I don't enjoy the extra work.

Players like Katie Murphy (left) and Lindsay Reihl make covering the NCAA women's program fun.

Some things haven't changed. Now, as then, I get into disagreements with others. Most recently, it has been with two fairly prominent entities in college hockey circles - College Hockey News and Chris Peters.

To briefly recap, CHN brought out the tired (and not really accurate) "PSU hockey starts under a black cloud" storyline and directly stated that Joe Paterno engaged in an active cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's crimes. Previous to that, they rubbed me the wrong way with an interview of Guy Gadowsky over the summer, in which they led with seven consecutive "scandal" questions (it directly tied into ten of the first eleven, in fact). At one point, they took an adversarial approach after Gadowsky answered a question about seeing the "guys who basically brought you to Penn State" (a little bit of a curious assertion in and of itself) go down by saying that he didn't come to PSU because of a couple of individuals:
But they put you in a tough spot. No one blames you, but when you came to Penn State, you talked a lot about how Penn State is never in the news for bad things. And they really made you look bad.
Eventually, after still another follow-up, Gadowsky said "Your first reaction was as a parent, of course. I would be completely dishonest if I didn't go through that emotion." HEADLINE!

Peters said that people who say "we are still Penn State" make him "squeamish" and then proceeded to produce a somewhat bizarre criticism of PSU's jerseys, which included him picking at the fact that the shoulder numbers are... in the exact same location as those worn by most USA Hockey teams, Peters' primary coverage interest.

I previously had a good relationship with both Peters and CHN. I didn't care and blasted them anyway. Both parties were unhappy about what I said and emailed me about it. I still don't care.

I feel like I get into more scraps than most bloggers or journalists out there - I've even had my dicey moments with PSU athletic department employees - and have come to the conclusion that yes, it's probably me. I'm not always an easy guy to get along with, and I don't believe that tweeting me or linking my work should shield someone from future criticism, if warranted.

On a related note, I also don't apologize for the Paterno quote that appears at the top of the blog. I try (really, I do) to not get into most of that stuff, but yes, I do have an opinion of the late coach. I have an opinion of what happened in 1998 and 2001 (we'll probably never have objective truth in that department), I have an opinion of how the whole thing was handled by PSU administration, and I have an opinion of what Paterno's legacy should be. You're welcome to assume what those opinions are and to disagree with them. A couple people have expressed that disagreement to me, with no hard feelings whatsoever on my end. It's a sensitive topic, I get that. I try not to force my views about it on people - it really has nothing to do with hockey - beyond that quote, but I will use this opportunity to say that it isn't going anywhere. My stance on that probably hurts the blog in some way. It may even be why my content has never once been tweeted by the official men's and women's accounts, even when it's opinion-neutral and, in my biased opinion, at or above the standard of other things they've tweeted from third-party sources.

I've considered quitting a few times. Once was during the summer of 2011 when I applied to be the athletic communications assistant for men's hockey. Between my early work on this blog and my history with the program, I thought I had a shot. A couple days after I submitted my resume, Penn State SID Jeff Nelson got in touch with me, and asked for my help in getting the word out about the fact that Armstrong (a cable provider in my area) still does not carry Big Ten Network. I thought - understandably, I think - that it was a test and acted accordingly. I also thought that I did a good job with it. I was wrong on at least one of those two counts, as I wasn't even interviewed. As someone who sincerely believed in the whole "Penn State/Penn State hockey family" ideal, I was pretty disillusioned about that. Then, when the scandal hit last November, I went to bed one night wondering whether I wanted to continue to have anything to do with the university. This blog and the hockey programs, as it turned out, were the only things that kept me on board.

Sometimes those close calls have been of a more positive nature. I've turned down a couple offers to write for bigger blogs in the past. I recently inquired about the possibility of covering hockey for Black Shoe Diaries, but ultimately decided to stay put (to be completely honest with you guys, BSD is probably the one blog where I would consider a move, but right now, I'm not interested).

Why not move on to a bigger and better blog? Simply put, I like my situation here. I don't have any aspirations of becoming a professional journalist. This isn't my livelihood and I don't have to cater to an audience to eat. Yeah, I care about viewership numbers and recognition, we all have egos after all, but not enough to compromise my opinions or pull punches. I'm not accountable to anyone but myself. It's pretty nice, actually.

I'm still not quite sure what these are.

My press pass says I'm media, and I suppose I am, but I'm not a journalist. I make no claims of objectivity. I'm fiercely loyal to Penn State hockey. I wear PSU merch in the press box, much to the consternation of some, I'm sure. I fist-pumped when Casey Bailey scored against AIC last Friday and threw my hands up at a no-call in the women's game the next day. I think I'm fair when commenting on the teams (in other words, not a total homer), but that doesn't change the fact that I want to see each of them succeed. Journalists aren't supposed to say things like that, but I make no apologies for the fact that I'm not a journalist.

A lot of my attitudes are the product of a guy who is still awkward about the fact that anyone actually cares about what I have to say, and a lot of the contradictions in what I've said here trace back to that fact. It probably sounds disingenuous at this point, but I never expected any of this, I figured I'd just be some guy shouting to the internet. It still surprises me when a Chris Peters finds out that I said something about him, just like it surprises me when people who I respect tremendously and who probably have better things to do than read TYT toss me a compliment.

At the same time, I still have a sincere appreciation for each and every one of you reading this, even if you think I'm a blowhard, even if I've trashed you before, even if you've trashed me back. I might be taking the "I'm not in this to make friends" angle, but at the same time, I have made friends in this as well, and I greatly enjoy the interaction TYT has facilitated. I said above that I'm not accountable to anyone but myself, but at the same time, that's not really true - I'm accountable to you guys as well. You are a big part of what keeps me going, what keeps me trying to produce stuff at a high level. You're what keeps me from taking a couple weeks off, then leading off the return post with "sorry about that." I probably don't say it enough, but thank you.

Most importantly, what I believe hasn't changed - specifically, with respect to the vision of Penn State hockey, the people charged with running it, the student-athletes who give me something to write about and the future of the programs. I have tremendous confidence in the fact that, despite the patronization or outright sneering from some corners, we'll eventually have four national championship programs on campus. I have even more confidence in the fact that the group of student-athletes and coaches representing Penn State will continue to make all of us proud regardless of what happens on the ice.

There have been ups and downs over the last 24 months. I've mentioned a few here, I've left an undefinable number of others out, but on balance, I'm definitely not sorry I decided to do this. Once again, thank you all for your part in what has truly been a memorable life experience. And it only gets better from here.


  1. Kyle,
    I love reading your stuff and utilize it often for historical accuracy in my PSU coverage and for just plain fun.

    It is much appreciated and i look forward to reading TYT for years to come.


  2. Happy Birthday... I remember WUG! TYT was the only one that I could get any info from!

  3. Congratulations on the blog birthday! I really do appreciate all the work you do.

  4. Congrats. This is one of my favorite sites on the web. I love hockey and I live in State College, so PSU is my team and this is the only site that covers them completely.

    I wouldn't mind seeing you change the quote at the top, not because of anything with Paterno but just for variety's sake. Also, now that the D1 team is up and running, I feel like we've moved to a different phase of the process. We have players and coaches now. Some choice words of inspiration from them would be good. (I also think Joepa was completely wrong about baseball, but that's ok. I know he was bitter about the Dodgers.)

    But it's your site, of course, and I'm extremely grateful for it. I couldn't do a quarter of the job you do on it so you could make it pink and orange and I'd still read it all the time.