Monday, February 4, 2013


I majored in English at Michigan during undergrad. I didn't take many creative writing classes because that wasn't really my focus--frankly, I didn't have a focus but I knew it wasn't creative writing. My poetry and short stories were dreck and it's carried over to some of the flashier things I try to do here: I've done my best to write game columns without any sort of narrative because a) I'm bad at that kind of writing and b) I think narrative is tedious, but I digress.

I did, however, take a few creative writing class, and in one in particular--which I unknowingly took with Steve Lorenz of Michigan Tremendous/24x7 fame--we were tasked with writing personal essays and critiquing the writing of others. In order for people to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and opening up with their writing, we began every peer-critiquing class/session with 45 minutes of complements and discussions of what the author did particularly well, followed by 45 minutes of what seemed amis and needed to be changed in subsequent drafts. If you're reading this blog, you probably know what's coming next. I didn't participate much during the first half of the class exercises, opting instead to discuss where the author stumbled.

At the same time, I was writing music reviews for websites like Stylus Magazine and PopMatters, and working at the Michigan Daily in the Arts section. What I found out, albeit slowly, was that I wasn't a very good music critic. There's a certain level of connection and empathy that comes with critiquing music, a fluid, personal expression. I envied some of my contemporaries like Mike Powell and Derek Miller, the likes of whose prose poetically discovered aspects of the music I had never contemplated. My mind was stuck on the chord progressions, cadence, flows, and the complexity of the beats, which is not to say that this isn't a valuable way of addressing music, but to do it well--see: Ian Cohen, Jeff Weiss--you have to be on some next level shit that I wasn't close to. I've since moved on to video games, which are far more calculating, and in this space, sports.

I'm telling you all of this to try and give some context for this blog which has recently become the Self-Hating Jew of Michigan sports sites, culminating in the MGoEeyore designation on MGoBlog that inspired the title.

In that creative writing class, I didn't put my efforts toward critiquing other peoples' writing because I wanted to be the class prick. In my opinion, most people know what they do well. The few times I wrote something that still holds up, it was fairly obvious why. However, my mistakes are far less apparent but more valuable in the long run; you learn more by finding out what you did wrong than being told what you did right. I assume other people find the same value in criticism, which brings us to Michigan sports and this blog.

I like Michigan football. I also like this basketball team, and despite popular belief, think they're quite good. But I'm of the belief that most of my readers know what Michigan sports teams do well. MGoBlog exists and does a fantastic job of detailing how and why, for example, this basketball team has become one of the best in the country. I don't write about those things for the same reasons that I don't write posts about recruiting or random news bits: the mission of this blog has always been to supply content that you can't get elsewhere. During the football season, that means extensive film breakdowns, the likes of which MGoBlog could do but doesn't have the time (or page space) for. But it also means asking questions about why Michigan teams lose close games or individual players' limitations, which exist but often go brushed aside--we're all fans and it sucks admitting our teams are flawed.

I think the frustration from readers arises because regardless of what I write here, it won't improve the team. Michigan teams won't learn from their mistakes because of posts on this site. So when I watch Michigan teams play, I know that Nik Stauskas is a great shooter but I want to see where his limitations lie. The same goes for a player like Trey Burke, who I'll be writing about tomorrow. So I don't pull my punches or hedge my bets: when I see a flaw, I write about it without qualifying, "But yeah, he's a really good guy and does all of these other things well." You know that already.


Yoda Is A Wolverine said...

Just keep being you chris. I have followed this blog for several years (don't post often) now and I don't follow it because I am hoping some day you will change. I follow it because I like what you write and how you write it and I hope it doesn't change. There are 6-10 other michigan football/basketball feeds I follow and when one of them posts something you can basically assume the others will follow with similar content shortely therafter. Please do not add to this (not that you would even if asked lol). Without rubbing your ass too much I will tell you that, in my opinion, you have made me a better michigan fan. You took some of my slappy and flushed it down the drain. You have made/make me look at our teams with an honest eye. More inparticular, I think I was able to truly appreciate and admire Denard Robinson because of some of your work (sounds funny right?). Instead of being a fan of #16 because of what I hoped he would become (ie great mechanics, pocket passer etc) I just let it go and enjoyed the ride for what it was. I didn't let it anger me as much when he made the inevitable throw off the back foot into the hands of the other team. That was just part of the package and a part I was willing to accept because it didn't outweigh the good he brought to the table. It definietly gives a fan more credibility when they are able to discuss and admit flaws instead of replicating that of some fans who can admit no flaws and/or make constant poor excuses.. The only bitch I have is that I want more content. Maybe it makes me sick that I enjoy a skeptical pessimisic view at points but damn it give me more! Thanks for what you do, makes some days go by a little faster. Randy

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