Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Before I move into the body of this letter, I want to thank you all very much for your support over the past year. I hope you have enjoyed the content we have produced, and I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy it in the future. Our little blog has grown by leaps and bounds-to the point of receiving a shout out from Bill Simmons personally. We’ve had several articles grow legs in cyberspace. It’s been incredible and deeply rewarding. We’ve certainly come a long way from the day I approached Caleb to write with me about sports.
When I first sat down with Caleb to hash out a content plan in January, we laid out a few ideas for what we wanted the blog to be. It’s probably best if I itemize them below to better separate my thoughts. Here’s what we settled on:
- Creative. First and foremost, I wanted to write about sports as a creative outlet for myself, as did Caleb. Yes, I am selfishly motivated insofar as I write more for myself than anyone else. All of us love sports, and we enjoy writing. The creative combination of the two to form Bench Points has been a blessing. The fact that we have regular readers who enjoy what we have to say is truly stirring. This isn’t because I am shocked people like to read what we write, though that’s somewhat true; it’s because now more than ever, you can choose what to spend your time reading online. I am profoundly thankful that so many of you choose to spend your time with us.
- Intelligent. Modern sports media whittles and pares stories into easily digestible nuggets that follow a predestined narrative. Many of you know the companies to whom I am referring, so naming them would be petty and distract from my point. Bottom line: the larger fish in the sports media world treat consumers like idiots and provide them a steady diet of digital opium as a means of discouraging critical thought. Sterile generalizations take the place of the truth, which is often rife with messy facts. My hope was that our content, especially our commentary on serious issues, included and directly addressed these messy facts. It’s the reason that we only ask our writers focus on sports they feel comfortable discussing. The last thing I want is one of us writing filler material because we aren’t as smart as we need to be about a certain sport. Intelligent is the main adjective I want attributed to our content. For the most part, I believe we’ve succeeded. I am thankful for that.
- Objective. This should come as no surprise to anyone, but Caleb, Brian, Billy, and myself all have our favorite teams. Many of the teams we like are rivals. While we genuinely believe fan interest makes our writing better, we have tried to save those conversations for our Slack chat and to not air them so overtly in our writing as to make our points nonsensical and obtuse. Our goal was never to hide from our homer interests, but to embrace them and attempt to maintain our objectivity-or, at very least, provide multiple viewpoints to cover all sides. Like the previous point, I believe we have generally succeeded here.
- Entertaining. Although we were really in this to satisfy our own need for a creative outlet, we wanted everything we wrote to be worth writing and worth reading for that matter. I wanted us to be funny-thought provoking, but funny when possible. I specifically wanted you, our readers, to look forward to reading Brian’s next NFL article or Caleb’s next basketball article or listening to our next podcast. I hope you enjoyed reading/listening to our content as much as we enjoyed creating it.
- Uncensored. I want our content to flow opposite to the majority of media today. I didn’t want it to be noise, or just another way of saying the same thing. I’m also not interested in just saying contrarian things to piss people off. However, in a world where people organize and demonstrate against having their feelings hurt by “micro-aggressions” and “trigger words,” we hoped to lend a real and measured position to the issues that transcend sports. We strive to be respectful and even-handed, but we certainly will not ever squash a story for the sake of not offending people. Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn if any one of my writers offends you with what they write. We will never set out with the intent to disparage anyone, but not everyone is going to like what we have to say, which is perfectly alright. Obviously, I want you to like us, but think of this as the hill upon which I make my last stand. It’s the hill of free speech. I will die on this hill if need be. I am very thankful for our readers who understand this position.
- Compelling. Lastly, we don’t break the news; we can’t, we don’t have the resources. Moreover, I don’t want us to break the news. Smart analysis is and should always be at the center of everything we write and record. We believe that quality content should drive our site’s traffic, but we are also in the position of selling our brand. We agreed early to avoid stoking outrage for the sake of driving our numbers and to avoid the practice of “clickbaiting.” I never want you to regret winding up at our website on one of our articles, nor do I want you to feel tricked when you click through a link. I hope we were able to accomplish this in the past year and continue to do so in the future.
The above have served as the infrastructure for all the decisions we have made at Bench Points. These points have influenced how we’ve selected our talented writers; they have driven our approach to content creation and podcasting. They are the closest thing to a mission statement that we have. It feels good to finally get them down on paper for everyone to see.
As Bench Points prepares to turn 1 in January, I can’t help but look forward. For those of you who are our regular readers/listeners, you know that my primary forte is football, specifically college football. As the NFL and NCAA seasons wind to a close, my focus will shift from being primarily a content creator to a role focused on managing the blog and our other writers. In order to fulfill my vision for our little sports blog, I have to cede the bulk of content creation this time of year to people more knowledgeable than myself about current sports until football rolls back around. I will still write regularly, but most of the serial content will be left in the hands of Caleb, Brian, and others-at least until baseball season.
Speaking of segues, I want to focus on the contributions of Caleb, Brian, and Billy over the past year. I have been unbelievably fortunate to work with an incredibly gifted group of writers who have fun writing and write stories worth reading. As they are not full time sports journalists, they lend one of their most precious resources to the blog-their time. For that, I am unspeakably grateful. It’s safe for me to say that Bench Points would not be nearly as successful without the contributions of Caleb, Brian, and Billy. So, in the most shameless way possible, thank you all very much for your help over the past year. I look forward to keeping a good thing going as we move into year 2.
We’ve had a hell of a year. I can’t help but circle back to you, our readers. We have had over 53,500+ unique viewers to our site, we have published 174 articles, and have had visitors from 141 countries across the globe. You guys are incredible, and I love each and every one of you. These stats set a high bar-not for you, but for us. As we move forward, we will continue to focus on the quality of our content and the entertainment of our readers. I certainly hope we can live up to your expectations.
As we close the year, I want to personally thank you all again for making this past year for us so special. We hope you have a very merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays.
Managing Editor, Bench Points