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January 9, 2012
 

How UF Saved My Soul

Boy.

Four years is a lifetime in the blogosphere.

Four years is a blink of the eye in a friendship.

When James T sent out the batsignal for people interested in writing about football, he found a core group of us on Deadspin who were excited about the prospect of forming a place of our own to talk about the sport we love.

After quite a bit of behind-the-scenes mollycoddling, we finally got our shit together and were off and running, debuting with what is still one of my favorite UF posts ever.

Over time we developed a voice, both individually and as a blog, and then set about figuring out how to get people to listen to what we had to say. We succeeded, more or less, despite some starts and stops long the way.

Anyone want to know about some footballing Traores?

How about some obscure football legends?

We have had quite a few highs and lows, again, both as individuals and as a blog, but we have all come out better for it on the other side. Through it all – the anxiety over the expectations of our commenters/readers, the masturbatory posts that few probably read, the brilliance of some our long-form efforts and one-off bits – we bonded rather strongly despite the fact that many of us had not met in person.

A large part of that bond has been the support we have provided for each other during our personal struggles. It might surprise you to know, but we’re real people with occasional real-life problems. Aside from anything going on with the blog (which from time to time lead to some fascinating arguments amongst us), we were always there for each other when needed. Sometimes it was a simple email or text of encouragement, or, if we were lucky, it was a conversation over (more than) a few beers.

By some turn of fate, after we had been up and running for a year I was the one going through some difficulties. Going through a divorce and feeling isolated at work, I turned my full attention to blogging in order to fill the void. During the 2009 calendar year, I’m fairly certain that I wrote 2,159 blog posts (this may be an exaggeration). At the end of that year, I lost my job (some nonsense about too much blogging and not enough working; I wasn’t really paying attention) and decided to go back to doing what I really loved, which is teaching.

For a variety of reasons, I was only able to find a part-time (non-tenure-track) position at a (somewhat) local university, but I loved being back in the classroom. Beginning in January 2010, I was happier than I had been in a long time, doing exactly what I wanted for a living, but also having plenty of time to blog about my other love, football. Then, in the summer of 2010 I found out that I wasn’t being offered any summer teaching, meaning that I was back on unemployment (UF on the dole!).

Rather than go back in the doldrums, I rededicated myself to being a blogging superhero during the 2010 World Cup. Of the 64 matches (including the 3rd-place tilt), we here at UF managed to liveblog 62 of them – James T was scheduled to liveblog the Group F match between Slovakia and Paraguay but had to unexpectedly throw up an open thread instead, and TSE dropped the ball on his Group G match between North Korea and the Ivory Coast – and we hit our stride. We saw boffo traffic and spent quite a few emails being self-congratulatory. Since I had so much free time, I managed to liveblog 25 of those 62 matches (doubling the efforts of my nearest UF colleague, TSE; excuse me, I just pulled a muscle patting myself on the back), including half of the Group E, G and H matches, half of the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals, and both Semifinal matches.

It truly is not an exaggeration to say that all of the liveblogging, and UF more generally, kept my spirits up. As someone who suffers from depression, the past 3 years have seen plenty of dark times creep into my life. Losing a wife and a job really sucks, but I made it through thanks to the UF community, colleagues and commenters alike. More than just something to do, more than forcing me to “go through the motions” to provide content, the true sense of friendship allowed me to keep my head high. The fact that these have extended to “real life” (you wouldn’t believe how healthy it is for your soul to play some beach footy at a wedding reception) is something that I treasure, and that will last forever.

So, somewhere along the way UF stopped being about blogging and started being more about the daily email thread and the bonds that we have formed. We’ve slowed down quite a bit here, as real life has continued to intrude for many of us. Although I’m still not on a tenure-track (although I have some applications out, so keep me in your thoughts), I have managed to boost my teaching to full-time. Unfortunately, in this climate that means that I am teaching 6 or 7 courses every semester, spread across 3 different universities. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of driving, which means that my efforts here have fallen by the wayside.

I knew it was time to step away when I was looking forward to the current 3-week break for Ligue 1, knowing that I wouldn’t have to preview/review matches for a little while. UF was always about fun, even when it was also about something more, and I felt like I wasn’t having as much fun anymore. We never wanted UF to be more than it was, but we all had minimum expectations for ourselves and the blog. I felt like I wasn’t meeting those expectations any more, which meant it was time to turn the page.

I’m sure you all would have loved my feature “Stupid Shit My Google Alert Produced”, and you’ll miss my rage-filled rant at PSG’s inevitable collapse (Arsenal having long since played that role to perfection), but this is for the best.

I truly love this site, my fellow contributors and all of our commenters (well, except for Wandering Bear, because…fuck that guy). I will miss this place immensely, but the time has passed.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

- Cedrick (AKA The NY Kid)

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About the Author

The NY Kid