I was the worst non-sports sports kid there was.
When you think of the way that teenagers talk about sports in classrooms and hallways, you see the sporto-jock stereotype…the kid in the letter jacket reeking of Axe body spray going on and on about whatever game happened to be on their TV the previous night. I wasn’t that kid.
I was the kid who got shoved into lockers by that kid.
I was the band kid, the math nerd, the academic award winner. The only sport that I ever “played” at that time was tennis, and even that didn’t go great…both of my seasons were cut short by injury, although my varsity doubles win (singular) still ranks as one of the best athletic achievements of my life. But I was watching the same games that they were. I was listening to my AM radio (anyone under 30 please ask your parents about this) to find out what faraway games would hit my receiver that night. And I had opinions. Boy, did I. But no one ever heard them.
Fast forward to today: now EVERYONE has an opinion on last night’s game. It’s called the Internet. It’s called Twitter. It’s called sports talk radio. From sea to shining sea, anyone can tell thousands what they think about Thursday night’s coaching decisions….from Sully in Bawston to Sarah in the Bay Area. And they do. Loudly. But there’s more to the conversation than that. People like Bill Simmons and Kyle Whellston (look him up if you don’t know) have spent years crafting and perfecting the long-form articles that have created markets that don’t have to be attached to a big-name network or a local yokel to gain traction. What used to exist solely in the pages of Sports Illustrated and books (again, kids: ask your parents) can be found all over, where sites such as The Cauldron and Grantland (RIP) drive water-cooler conversation among those in the know.
Which brings me to the premiere of Five Down Territory (FDT). Why another site? No, I’m not writing because I think I’m smarter than you, although if I can get you to think differently for three seconds of your day than you have before I’ll consider it a success. I picked Five Down Territory as a title because I was always outside of the picture in the world of sports. No, I do not have “insider access” you don’t. No, I don’t go to a lot of games live…but I’m guessing you don’t either. Not that many do, after all…just go look at @EmptySeatsPics and realize that the in-stadium product isn’t really the product.
Five Down Territory will live in that reality. FDT aims, as the name suggests, to live outside of the normal view of sports. In other words, I’m looking for the “meta”.
This deserves explanation. One of the things that I’ve suddenly become enamored with as means of mental exercise is a card game called Magic: The Gathering. And I don’t even play it. I used to, when I was in college back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the basketballs were square and filled with sawdust, but not any more. My sudden re-discovery of the game has to do with the chase for the meta. “The meta” is a term that gets used in M:TG to describe the game outside of the game. See, it’s one thing to win a mano a mano game against another person. But how can you manipulate the rules of the game WHILE YOU’RE PLAYING IT to make it more likely for you to win? How do OTHER people try to manipulate the rules, and can you use this knowledge of the game outside of the game to your advantage?
In other words, the meta is real. And that’s what I’m chasing at FDT. I want to write about the game outside of the game. I want to write about the things that interest me, but do so in a way that brings together Tim Ferriss, economic theory, and the state of the LA Clippers…that relates the Old Testament to why people (apparently) dislike Cam Newton…that shows why bad teams should be way more concerned with the status of their AD and Netflix than the guys wearing the uniforms. Will I be influenced by rooting interests? Of course I will…I’d be naive to claim otherwise. But I’ll aim to do it in a way that can be understood by anyone, fan or no.
So that’s it. I appreciate you reading…the Internet is a big place, so for you to get this far is saying something. The game’s over, but it isn’t over. Welcome to Fifth Down.