Having written more than my fair share of clickbait headlines during my time at 3DownNation, it seems only fair that I subject myself to one on my way out.
After 10-plus years covering the CFL and nearly five at 3Down, I’ve decided to move on to other things. There’s nothing wrong – at least no more than usual – it’s just that this site requires more of me than I am capable or willing to give it. 3Down (and the Ticats beat before that) has been all-encompassing and there are things I want to do with my life and my career that aren’t this. The site is a passion project for everyone involved and I won’t do it without being able to give it the time and energy it rightly deserves.
There are a couple of other factors, including one that has been bothering me for a while: football can be devastating for the people who play it. I’ve written enough stories, done enough reading, talked to enough players to know the game is negatively impacting the trajectory of their lives. I’m genuinely concerned about what may be in store for some of the players I covered and came to like and respect.
There’s a certain cognitive dissonance that comes along with watching football these days, a part of it I have to compartmentalize in order to still enjoy it. The hard truth of it is that I have become more uncomfortable watching football – and profiting from it.
There are a few other little things, all of which could justify their own self-serving rant. The inherent contradiction of competing with the CFL’s ever-expanding “media” division while also covering it; the ever-declining level of discourse in the age of social media; the perception that holding the league and teams accountable is somehow akin to hating them. These are minor irritations that, built up over a decade, became somehow burdensome.
But complaining about this gig is like bitching about winning the lottery: I’ve gotten paid to travel the country while watching and writing about football. The vast majority of people I’ve met along the way have been good and decent, driven by a love of the craft, the sport, the league or some combination of all three. It’s been a helluva run and I’ve enjoyed 99.9 per cent of it.
So what’s next for me? Well, I’ve been named the Web Editor at the Hamilton Spectator, essentially applying a lot of what I’ve learned at 3Down to the website of a major metro daily. When I returned to the Spec newsroom last January, a place I really hadn’t spent much time for a decade, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But being around the news again – crime, politics, social justice – has been invigorating. Journalism is locked in a fundamental battle for its very survival and I think the work we do is vitally important; I want to be a part of that fight.
Meanwhile, 3DownNation will continue to grow and thrive. Justin Dunk, who has been an integral part of operations here for the last several years, will take over as primary owner and editor (something that essentially happened months ago.) The site will be different under his stewardship – he would never write a headline like this one – and likely more in tune with its audience. I feel like I’ve taken 3Down as far as I can – I no longer have a formal editorial role or ownership stake – and that Justin is the person to take it to the next level.
I sincerely hope you’ll continue to support the site with both your eyeballs and your dollars. The people here, who love this game and this league and this site, deserve it.
Meanwhile, my work may still appear here from time to time and maybe I’ll see you at a game once in a while: I’ll be the one with a beer in my hand, like the lazy, shiftless bastard that I am.