Sure, I have written a lot about Lehigh football, the Patriot League, the NFL, and whatever else I damn well please over the course of the last fourteen or more years. Maybe I didn't write particularly great all the time -- but sometimes, maybe more by accident than by design, the writing turned out OK.
But the one constant was that I wrote. I'd sit in front of the warm glow of the laptop monitor and write. I'd start in the bedroom, before my tired wife would kick me out and I'd write on the laptop in the office so that the clicking of the keys didn't irritate her.
What I did know how to do was to put my face in front of the laptop and write about the sports subjects that interested me.
But these last few months, I've found it harder to come up with the energy to come up with posts every week. Since it's the offseason, I've got some time to try to analyze it and think it through, and I think I've come up with a few reasons why.
If there is one simple answer to the question, it is: today's world.
Lehigh Football Nation was never meant to be more than a place to express my point of view on topics I cared about.
By design, it was not meant to be limited to Lehigh football, even though Lehigh Football is right there in the title.
If I feel like writing about the Red Sox breaking the Curse, I can. If I am possessed to write about the ecstasy of the Saints beating Peyton Manning's Colts in the Super Bowl, something that was also a lifetime in the making, I could.
The power of a blog is that the restrictions are none. As blogging gets eclipsed in some ways by "mainstream paid digital media", I think we forget the power of being your own editor, which is still firmly the way when it comes to blogging.
I can write about what I want, with as many words as I want, and I can choose to use the word "shit", or not. I can use the word "ain't" and I can make my paragraphs as long as I want, my sentences as long as I want, and I don't even need to adhere to the rules of grammar if I don't want to. The lack of an editor when doing this is at once powerful, and also means one must develop a huge sense of self-control when writing. (Folks that have read any of my three part Lehigh football game previews might laugh at the words "self-control" and "LFN blog posts" in the same sentence, but I digress.)
If there is one overarching theme of Lehigh Football Nation, it's that it was meant to be a place that's entertaining. I don't necessarily shy away from some tough topics, but I try to keep the focus on football, Lehigh, sports, the Patriot League, or some combination of all of those things. It's not meant to be a lightning rod for controversy.
But on November 8th, everything changed.
Don't deny it; whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, whether you love him or loathe him with every fiber of your being, everything changed.
Behavior that once felt like givens - treating women with respect, operating you work and home life ethically, having a fundamental sense of compassion for others, while tweaking opponents, show a certain respect of difference of opinion - seems like it has been upended.
It still seems to me outrageous that we now live in a society where this type of behavior isn't some sort of agreed-upon consensus. But it's not, and it's affected every level of discourse in the United States, from social media posts to message boards to discussions with your neighbors and family to conversations in the supermarket.
|"The more people you love, the weaker you are"|
The vote on November 8th is at once the cumulation of the coarsening of our culture, and a repudiation of many things I thought to be self-evident.
For example, I didn't think we lived in a society devoid of compassion for refugees coming to the country (the vast majority of them women and children) from war-torn areas. Trump's executive order which had the effect of cruelly turning innocent people away at airports sickened me, and still sickens me today. It is literally the polar opposite of what I think America stands for.
I also didn't think we could have a politician that can actively say something that is so unbelievably untrue that it is impossible to even consider, like promising the return of coal and steel jobs. Another steel mill will never re-open in Bethlehem. Steel jobs will never return here, no matter how much Donald Trump promises that they will. Steel is a global industry, and long, long ago the cruel realities of the global steel industry helped crush Bethlehem Steel. All that's left now is the husk, owned by Sands Casino, and it will never forge steel ever again.
I also didn't think that this week's decision by Trump to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, something that the vast majority of Americans, politicians, and business leaders of Fortune 500 companies wanted to continue, would be something even remotely considered when it comes to governing the business of the country. I don't feel like I'm a person that thinks we need to combat climate change above all else, but I honestly don't see any compelling economic, moral, or practical argument for pulling us out, and it appears to screw America out of being in the driver's seat in a huge, global industry that will only get bigger over the rest of our lifetimes. It costs us nothing to stay in, and lead. To me, by pulling out, America looks like a bunch of cowardly idiots, ignoring a very profitable reality.
I know better than most that facts can be wielded in debate as weapons, and, yes, Democrat strategists get Democratic facts and Republican strategists get Republican facts. But photographs of an inauguration are not Republican facts, or Democratic facts. They're just pictures. More than anything, these pictures are not matters of debate.
I don't bring all this up to enter into a political food fight but to illustrate the reaction the new realities of the world have had on me. You may disagree with me on one, or all, of my above opinions. But the fact I hold these opinions, and the fact the country to me appears to be going in the polar opposite direction, is something that troubles me on a daily basis.
Last July, the most important thing I had to think about or write about is how the upcoming season was going to go for Lehigh football. Political debates were political debates, compartmentalized away and seemingly not all that relevant to my life since Trump (I thought, perhaps foolishly) was going to lose anyway.
But now he's here, and he's changing America in a way I feel is for the worse. And that affects my writing. That affects my focus on talking about Lehigh sports.
It means I, like a lot of folks, spend way too much time on my Twitter feed watching for the latest Trump lunacy to hit Twitter, sometimes weighing in on the @LFN Twitter account if it feels germane to something Lehigh fans might care about, other times reacting on my personal Twitter account instead.
|Pres. John D. Simon|
"The free flow of students and scholars across borders is essential to the scholarly activity of our university, and international engagement remains an integral component of our mission of teaching, research and service," said a message from Simon, Provost Patrick Farrell and Vice President of Finance and Administration Patricia A. Johnson.
One thing that has encouraged me over these last six months is reading the fantastic work by the kids at the Brown and White, who, in the last six months, have consistently put out excellent work in these changing times. They've done a fantastic job keeping things on topic, making sure they relate to the Lehigh community, and told me things I didn't know.
But that's just it: like many others, I watch Twitter and read boatloads from the Brown and White, New York Times, Washington Post, Morning Call, Express-Times, and even, on occasion, from sites I don't agree with or much like.
It's important to read great writing and great reporting. But I, like many, have been reading and reading and reading a lot, without contributing back the amount I've been consuming. I feel like it's become a sort of addiction - something I do that prohibits me to do important work, which, to me, is defined as my own writing of books or LFN blog posts.
Like the meme in the bumper, my sadness about the current world becomes a form of addiction, addicted to waking up and watching the latest bit of common decency to be upended, to tweet about Trump's latest retreat from the rest of the planet. I can't let my sadness wreck my writing. I cannot let that happen.
So today I just got on here, and remembered how to write, simply by staring at the blank page, and just pouring out my soul onto it. I'm hoping by doing so it will get me re-focused towards what I do best. As ever, I'm hoping for sanity to return to the world. And I'm also hoping that watching Washington, DC burn doesn't prevent me from writing. I can't let that happen.