Agenda Setting

“It’s easier to judge a voice than it is to use one.”

As an impressionable teenager in the early oughts, it was common for me to shape my entire world view on the lyrics of punk bands. Though these nascent views would prove malleable, no one line has had such a lasting impact on me as the one quoted here. It comes from a song entitled “Banished and Loving It” by The Ghost, a now defunct post-punk band that released a few records to mild acclaim in the early-to-mid-2000s. Back then, I was a self-proclaimed “music reviewer,” and I had the task of judging the art of The Ghost – and more specifically, the words written by frontman Brian Moss. When I heard him passionately belt this line for the first time, time stopped. He was speaking to me, even if he wasn’t. 

I learned then that it really is easier to be a critic than to make that which is being critiqued. It’s part of the reason I informally retired from judging music, but The Ghost’s wise words have impacted my life in a far more profound way. They pushed me to never complain, gripe, or dissent without offering a suggestion in return. Those words always remind me that every critique must come attached with a recommendation for improvement. Not just in work, but also in life.

Unfortunately, in the world of Internet writing and blogging, most people have not grasped this concept. This is why comment sections across the web—and especially in sports—are littered with words that are more or less worthless. Rarely does a commenter rise above his or her own biases to offer a thoughtful counterpoint or elaboration.

As a die-hard sports fanatic, I read a lot of the outlets where these comments are churned out, and they are not all bad. Cerebral blogs and websites in particular seem to attract the brightest of comments. But those are an outlier given the sheer magnitude of the sports blogosphere.

For the last four years, the extent of my own web presence mostly starts and ends with assuming the role of “thoughtful commenter.” The advent of hubs like SBNation.com and the True Hoop Network have definitely brought on a new era of thoughtful commenting and even fan-generated content, and we’re all better off with such outlets. But to some degree, my favorite sport, college basketball, has yet to form a definitive community on the national level. There are plenty of great team-specific outlets where strong communities do exist, but the primary publishers of national college hoops content—ESPN.com, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, SI—seem to attract the more vile commenters, or they do not feature fan content at all.

On a personal level, then, Halcyon Hoops is an avenue for me to create that fan content, to comment on the goings-on in college hoops. There are dozens of superb independent and corporate outlets out there that cover the scene already, and this blog will never aim to duplicate what’s already being done (after all, how many more “quote and react” blogs do we need?). My aim is to fill in the gaps, to post on aspects of topics that might go overlooked or under-developed, and to advance the discussion of college hoops, even if just a bit.

I spent the past year running a team-specific blog for a mid-major basketball team. It was equal parts long-form narrative and statistics geekery; I imagine this outlet will represent a similar dichotomy, if not a complete blending of the two.

After several years of diligently following college hoops on a year-round basis, I’m eager to do more than lurk as a commenter. I’m ready to use my voice, as Brian Moss suggested to his listeners all those years ago. I hope you will follow along and engage.

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