Unprofessional Foul


January 9, 2012

Notes From The Not-Very-Underground-At-All


So, I’m sure by now you’re all figuring out what our string of misty-eyed retrospectives/adventures in oversharing are all about.

That’s right; as of, um, right about now, Unprofessional Foul is dead. Ceased to be. Bereft of life. Shuffled its mortal coil, etc etc etc DEATH SYNONYMS LIFTED FROM A MONTY PYTHON SKETCH.

We killed it.

What did Unprofessional Foul achieve in its four years? I’d like to think a lot. I launched the initial hopeful/nervous recruitment drive on one of David Hirshey’s weekly posts for Deadspin, back when DS was really the only sports blog worth reading. (I mean, The Big Lead existed, but it was readable in the same way that Courtney Love’s tweets are readable. After all, there’s an art to this stuff. Simply cramming words together doesn’t make for anything good.)

Here it is. Man, what a dickhead I was. I had a stupid email address (though surely “The JT Effect,” whatever that was/is, precluded “The Axe Effect” as the predominant form of advertising irritation), I had a plaintive tone to my request, and, really, I didn’t expect much at all. I thought I’d get a couple of red-blooded “RARGH SOCCER IS 4 TEH MORONZ” spammers, a tries-too-hard nerd (who later turned out to be, well, me), and perhaps a genuine footy fan with a turn of phrase every bit as mesmeric as Ronaldinho’s greasy curls or Clint Dempsey’s RAP SKILLS.

And yet, I ended up with an inbox flooded with genius. And over the course of our impressive-in-internet-years life span, we’ve done a lot with it. Not only did we kinda help to define the first wave of soccer blogs, but we did the snark about as well as any other while in our prime. We didn’t dissect games, we flamed players, eviscerated managers, and lambasted the powers that forever undermined the beautiful game. We parodied the pageantry, mocked the status quo, and while it’s also true that we burned a few bridges along the way — seriously, reading some of the SEO-tweaked pabulum out there made me supremely homicidal — we never once stopped loving the sport. You know how it is. You embrace the flaws in the people, places, and things we love.

But we were overrun. Consumed by our own sense of proud perfectionism. We were overtaken by an avalanche of quality writers and web sites that we could never possibly be. Though we never stopped wanting to push ourselves, it became impossible with every non-UF opportunity that came our way. Write a bit here. Try this. Take a new job. Teach another class. Perform some stand-up at an open mic. Work late. Move to New Jersey. Et cetera.

Something had to give. Which is why I’m writing this in a hotel room the day before I get to work.

Oh, and the commenters. You lot. Easily the biggest legacy of UF when our whining, whinging, perfunctory prose, and misguided ire transcend into the next life. The toughest thing about writing for the internet is remembering not to read what people write about you. Or at least learning how to handle it with a truckload of salt and not letting the poorly-spelled death threats or spurious speculation about your personal life get past your outer layers. With UF, there was never any such fear. Every word was hilarious, well-placed, incisive, and entertaining to read. Even the Concave Sports’ intrepid and not-too-good-at-self-concealment marketing team was an absolute hoot to spar with. Our conversations and repartee felt every bit as hysterical and in good spirits as that we’d all routinely enjoy at our favorite bars on those dismal, damp Saturday mornings when we dared leave the house to watch in mixed company.

Plus our viewing parties — the screening of The Damned United in midtown, the USA/England viewing party at George Keeley — that brought the web site out into the world as something tangible and overly beery. We’ll still have those, but we’ll have to organize them a little more stealthily and #OWS-y than we used to be able to with a humble blog.

Above all — and believe me when I say I’m torn up about this, even with a bright future ahead of me — this was not done lightly. Heck, I’m even editing my farewell post sitting in my rented Chevy Cruze in the ESPN parking lot before driving 4 1/2 hours back to my Amish country compound. I’m exhausted and sad about ending UF, but as I think I mentioned, we can’t do it anymore. Plus evolution is kinda fun. Moving on is part of life. I have a son, too, who is more than a handful, albeit in an awesome way. I alluded to his travails on Twitter once upon a time, but find me and I’ll explain some time if you ask me. We’ll drink beers while we talk.

Oh, and it’s nothing to do with my new job, either (I mentioned it earlier today on Twitter, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity) but rather, the culmination of a long and painful period of self-reflection for the entire UF squad. You see, we’re all a bit tired. Weary. Broken down, ground into fine dust, and weathered from our regular lives. (Except The NY Kid, who doesn’t look a day over 21.)

Hard as it was for us to come to this conclusion — and you should see our emails… holy shit. There’s like a million of them. Swearing. Agonizing. Rationalization. The various stages of grief. Likely Lad was sent to Bellevue. Moonshine Mike went off the grid and lived in a Idahoan yurt for thirteen days. I think Autoglass even inadvertently typed out Infinite Jest without even realizing. — it made complete sense. If we couldn’t do Unprofessional Foul as it was supposed to be (those glorious Euro 2008/World Cup 2010 months of quality coverage, the stop-start series like “Better Know A Traore?” and the weird Sepp Blatter faux diary I swung-and-missed on, and plenty of other gems), then we would stop. And so, somehow, we did.

Soccer is a love — an honest, aching, serious love — for all of us, but our legion runs from 9 to 5 (more like sun-up to sun-down) in many different directions. We are lawyers, TV editors, investment bankers. We are journalists (trust me on this one), social media svengalis, owners of profitable boutique design firms. We are teachers, programmers, high-level executives routinely in charge of multi-million-dollar academic institutions. We are loudmouths. We are blessed with superhuman capacities for alcoholic consumption. We work for HBO, AOL, ESPN, and the Ivy League. We deliver your mail, handle your insurance claims and adjustments, and teach future generations about criminal law.

No, we’re not members of some post-apocalyptic, Sam Allardyce-worshipping Tyler Durden clan. We’re Unprofessional Foul. And we’re a bit too consumed with all of the above to devote the loving time needed to keep UF in fine shape.

And so, we come to rest. It’s our turn to put our feet up and carpet-bomb your blogs with comments, wit, and incisive discussions of TACTICS! So let us role-reverse from here into forever. Take these feelings of joy and sadness and sow your own fertile blogging grounds. Let that be UF’s legacy. Well, that and the boobs and blatant disregard for syntax. Right now I’m driving home, but let’s all congregate later tonight when we’re drunk and rowdy and commiserate like champions.

Drop your URLs and @s in the comments so we know how to find you.

Long live UF. Not just on these archived web pages, but in each and every one of us.

- James T, as well as

- The Fan’s Attic
- The NY Kid
- Precious Roy
- Moonshine Mike
- The Likely Lad
- Jacob
- Mountain WAG
- The Stretford End
- Norfolk Ned
- Bigus Dickus (RIP)
- Spectator
- Outside Mid
- Sven
- Orr
- BG
- ian
- Autoglass
- Wanker’s Doom
- Spinachdip NY
-  Soccer Rocker
- Joep Smeets 

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About the Author

James T