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SB Nation, Banner Society and EDSBS forever

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Today is another sad day in a series of them.

The South Won: Sports, Music, and The New South - 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW

You may not know this, but today, Friday, May 1st, 2020 a whole shitload of excellent writers, editors, producers and other team members at various SB Nation verticals no longer work there.

Furloughs are not to be unexpected during These Uncertain Times and Vox Media was not immune. Names you’ve no doubt seen around these parts of the internet for years, names like Spencer Hall, Jason Kirk, Matt Brown, Alex Kirshner, Richard Johnson, will no longer be writing for SB Nation or Banner Society.

I focused on the college football adjacent names because that’s who y’all are probably the most familiar with, but so many other talents are also out of work today. Honestly, if you’ve got a couple of million dollars laying around and are willing to take some early losses...you could start up one of the most popular sports destinations on the internet, like, by the end of the weekend.

I don’t know much about how multimedia conglomerates work. I mean, I’m the fourth most responsible person in my house...of four...with two children three and under. However, it seems like successful and much-loved websites that talk about sports are suddenly being gutted and left to die.

Deadspin is not even a shell of its former self. SB Nation just kicked many of its most popular writers to the curb with little hope of them coming back in three months when the furlough is over. These places were fun and now that fun is over.

I struggled for a long time to take sports as seriously as I should. Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs everyone took sports extremely seriously and, even though neither of my parents were from there, I did too. Somewhere deep inside me I still have a burning hatred for Joe Carter, the 1997 Detroit Red Wings, Joe Jurevicius and many, many others.

I took sports too seriously and I subsequently didn’t enjoy them as much as I could have.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of hate in my heart reserved for sports but it’s different. My week isn’t ruined if the Eagles lose on Sunday. In fact, I really don’t get worked up about the NFL at all anymore, a decision I made before the season the Birds won the God damned Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

That should have been one of the happiest days of my life, and while I was happy, I was happy because it was a cool moment and not because “FUCK YEAH PHILLY BOSTON SUCKS GO BIRDS EAT SHIT BRADY!”

This long, and perhaps unnecessary, sidebar about me and Philadelphia is included to say that SB Nation showed me a way to enjoy sports without it being life or death. They made it fun.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to write about sports for a living. In high school I applied to Northwestern early decision in the hopes that I could be a Medill Grad. I wasn’t accepted but somehow I’m still the proud owner of a Medill diploma. Weird. I applied to Syracuse’s journalism school, which is far more difficult to get into than the general school, and wasn’t accepted. I took Journalism 202 at Wisconsin and didn’t get a good enough grade, because I was an awful college student, to take the next level course. Later I wrote for the Badger Herald only because my roommate, who was the Campus Editor, needed someone to cover some campus meeting.

Basically, I was not good enough to do this and yet I continued to try.

I will admit that the first time I read Every Day Should Be Saturday I didn’t like it. I didn’t get it. They weren’t treating college football, a very serious thing that I cared a lot about, with the proper respect after all! But I kept reading and as I got more acquainted with how Spencer, Jason, Holly and Ryan thought the more I realized they were doing college football correctly.

College football is the stupidest sport in the whole world. Nothing about it makes any sense and there is nothing like it in the whole world. I’ve worked with foreigners who look at me completely dumbfounded when I tell them that, yes, 80,000 people show up every Saturday in Madison to watch non-professionals play other non-professionals in football and they fucking love it.

The folks at EDSBS, and eventually Banner Society, fucking loved how stupid college football is. They embraced it and leaned into it and made me, and many others, better fans of the sport. I’ve often impressed strangers with my knowledge of obscure college traditions of schools I have zero affiliation with.

This is the best piece of college football writing I’ve come across.

It was written by Spencer before the start of the 2011 season and I usually read it once per year. I could write every hour of every day for the next decade and not write something as good, meaningful or poignant, let alone relate it to college football. That’s what was special about EDSBS and Banner Society, sure, they were ostensibly writing about college football but it was always about something more.

I don’t know any of these people that wrote for these sites personally, but I feel like I do. I’ve always felt like I want to know them personally at least. They seem smart and funny and have similar interests to mine and most of all they seem fun. I’ve always tried to write like them, which I can’t, but I hope that with enough practice I can make a proper facsimile.

This nearly 1,000 word post hasn’t even touched on the Shutdown Fullcast, or its predecessor Shutdown Fullback, which is a shame because both of those shows are awesome, but as I just mentioned this is getting too long already.

I’m upset that the website I work for no longer employs some of the best and smartest college football voices out there but I also know that they’ll land on their feet. While God is away on business right now, business trips don’t last forever.

Roll Tide.