Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Belated Anniversary

Well, TigerBlog completely missed a pretty big anniversary.

Back in 2008, TB's then-colleague Yariv Amir told him that he'd created a blog for Princeton Athletics, though nobody was quite sure what to do with such a blog.

The very first blog entry was on Aug. 28, 2008. Where were you that day?

Here's what it said:
The new Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium hosted its first event on Thursday as members of the media were introduced to the new home of Princeton soccer. Head coaches Jim Barlow and Julie Shackford and members of both teams met reporters from area newspaper and television outlets. Look for articles in the upcoming issues of the Princeton Packet and Town Topics and on WZBN News. 

That was it.

The second entry was a day later. This was what it said:
It appears that Princeton two-sport star Will Venable will make his Major League Baseball debut tonight for the San Diego Padres against Colorado. Venable was a healthy scratch from his game last night in AAA, while current Padre outfielder Scott Hairston is headed to the DL with a thumb injury. 

Again, that was it.

The idea at first was to use the blog for those sort of small announcements, though that didn't really pan out. Then, next, it was used for in-game blogging, mostly for football and men's and women's basketball, which also caused a few problems.

First, if you want to do in-game blogging, you have to be funny and colorful, and that wasn't really what figured to be okay in the early days of TigerBlog. Second, the livestats option was accomplishing the same thing as the in-game blogging. Third, it wasn't really fair to do it for just three sports.

For most of the earliest days of the blog, it was a site for in-game updates and those little notes like the first two, as well as small entries, like 100 words or fewer, that told a funny story or an interesting fact. There were weekends where the entry was constantly updated with in-game results

And that's how it went along in those first few months.

With one tiny issue: nobody was reading.

 Like, nobody. Like 30 people a day. It hardly seemed worth it.

Oh, there was one big thing that happened in 2008. It was on Election Day actually.

For the first few months, any references to the writer of the blog used the pronoun "we" to represent the entire Office of Athletic Communications. On Election Day, though, that changed a bit, as instead of writing "We endorse voting," it read "TigerBlog endorses voting."

From then on, TB became a third-person experience.

It wasn't until January of 2009 that things started to change a little, or a lot, actually. There was still in-game blogging, but that started to fade away, replaced gradually by what it came to resemble.

This led TigerBlog to notice something. When the subject wasn't just in-game blogging and when it was a little bit more than just a few paragraphs, the audience started to grow.

Back in those days, TB wrote most, but not all, of the entries. In fact, in OAC meetings, there would be discussions about who would write the entry on any given day, planning out the entire week. In fact, there would be days where there would be more than one entry.

Eventually, TB decided two things. First, he didn't want to dump more work on the people in his office. Second, the blog had to have a new entry to continue to build the audience.

Every day. As in every business day, every single one. It had to become a habit for people to read it, and readers had to know that each day there'd be another one.

And so, with that as a foundation, TB took over the writing responsibilities. And he made a commitment to doing it every day - at least until the summer of 2009, when he figured he'd do it three days a week because he'd have nothing to write about without any athletic events.

Then, when the summer rolled around, he figured he'd just keep writing and see where it went. So he did.

Through the years, TB has used the blog as a way to tell stories of his experiences covering Princeton sports, to promote upcoming events, to give a little flavor to what goes into running a highly successful Ivy League athletic department. He's written about politics, pop culture, youth sports, his kids, movies and TV, pro sports, international sports, his time as a Quaker, anything and everything - always relating it back to Princeton and its athletic teams.

Today is entry number 2,705. There have been nearly 1.4 million page views all time, and average readership these days is well into the thousands per day. TigerBlog has met a lot of people who have emailed him or come up to him to say that they read it and enjoy it, which is, of course, the whole point.

The anniversary he missed was on Jan. 22, a little more than two weeks ago. On that day, TigerBlog reached the 10-year mark of never having missed a business day. Not once.

There have been guest entries, and those are always welcome. There have been a few entries from OAC staffers. Over 99 percent of the entries, though, have come from TB.

It hasn't mattered the season. It hasn't mattered what's been going on at Princeton. TB has come up with something new to write about every business day in all that time.

Of everything he's ever done in his professional career, that fact is way up there in things that he's proud of, by the way. And he'd be remiss if he didn't thank the two Ford Family Directors of Athletics, Mollie Marcoux Samaan and her predecessor Gary Walters, who allowed him to do something a little bit different all these years.

He's written after surgeries, when he's been sick, even when he was in foreign countries. Every day.

One day, he'll stop. It won't be tomorrow.

Thanks for reading everyone.


Unknown said...

Mazel tov, TB!

BGA said...

Congratulations TB!

D '82 said...

TB, when you first started writing a daily entry, I thought to myself, "He's going to run out of material soon." When I worked in investment banking, I wrote a daily recap of trading markets. It's tough to say something original every single day, and I had the advantage of changing securities prices every trading session. You don't even have a Princeton game every day, to say nothing of the summers.

Your best columns are the ones which read like feature stories, rather than news stories. Your accumulated memories of Tiger sports give us readers a look behind the scenes which can't be matched by "regular" articles. Keep up the great work.

Congratulations on your milestone. There's something to be said for answering the bell every single time it rings.