BlackSportsOnline Celebrates It’s 25k Post With a Story From Robert Littal
It doesn’t seem that long ago since we celebrated our 10,000 post (because it was July of 2012), but here we are just a little over a year later and we are now celebrating out 25,000 post, which gives me an opportunity to reflect a little bit and let people behind of the curtain of BSO and my journey to get us where we are today.
On the 10k post I focused a lot on my struggles. The evictions, repos, financial struggles, my 1 day in the county jail (it was traffic tickets I am not a serial killer, settle down), me and the IRS played hide and seek for a while, but we cool now and maybe most importantly my fear of being a failure in the eyes my daughter (she was just a year old when I purchased the BSO domain, she is 9 now and I still can’t believe it).
Since I don’t want to depress you again this story is about a dog. Not my beautiful sleeping Beagle Ellie, that you see above (most of you know her as EL), but a dog named Dexter.
When I was little kid, my family took in a mut named Dexter. Back then I lived in a two-family flat home with my mom, grandmother, aunt and two cousins. I was younger than my cousins, so of course I immediately felt a bond with Dexter. I walked Dexter, I fed Dexter (he liked Bologna sandwiches for some reason), I played with Dexter and in general was the one who took care of Dexter.
One day, I came home and Dexter was gone.
To this day what happened to Dexter is a mystery, mainly because my mom has told me 25 different stories over the last 25 years. Dexter might have left on his own, he maybe got ran over or he might have bit my aunt and she took him to the pound, were just a few of the stories.
I don’t know for sure, but what I did know is I was devastated. Not just that day, but for 25 years. I am only child and even though I can be sociable when I feel like it is needed (I was once told by a school counselor when I was in high school, it was abnormal how quickly I could go from introvert to extrovert, I think she was saying I had split personalities), I prefer to be left alone. Dogs understand that, humans like to talk, dogs like to sleep and eat bacon, I appreciate that.
I made myself a promise that day, I would get a dog again that would understand me, but I would never do unless I could keep the dog forever.
Sadly, as the years went by I was never in a position to get that dog. I was having a hard enough time taking care of myself and later my family to worry about the responsibilities of having dog.
As things improved, I was still hesitant, people hear me say Dollarnaire and think I am joking, but I am not. That phrase came from real life situations of having to stretch every dollar I could, because you didn’t know when the next one was coming. If you been broke before you understand there is a certain paranoia that comes from it even when you aren’t anymore. I will probably have that paranoia for life and it was stopping me from getting the dog.
But, then on May 25th, 2013 I decided to go to the Humane Society. I wasn’t planning on getting a dog, I was just testing the waters. Something interesting happened that day, I walked into two rooms with dogs and didn’t like any of them, mainly because they were all barking at me. I was getting ready to leave, when I noticed there was a 3rd room and that is when I saw her.
She wasn’t a puppy like I wanted (El is 3), her kennel was a mess, but she didn’t bark at me. She looked at me with a look that screamed.
“I am not meant to be in here, I am meant to do absolutely nothing and if you save me, I will be forever in your debt.”
For the official record El is for my daughter, unofficially she is for me. I have heard that you don’t pick your pets, but your pets pick you and this was definitely the case. She represents more though than just man’s best friend, but a closing of a chapter in my life and the start of a brand new one.
When you struggling and trying to fight your way to a certain position, it makes you angry. You release that anger out in various ways and sometimes not very positive ways. I am guilty of that, I’ve done and handled certain situations poorly in the past. I grew up on the North Side of St. Louis, MO, where if you called someone the wrong name, they shoot and asked questions later. So, I didn’t handle social media slander well, I never went out of my way to bother anyone, so it was difficult for me to process someone calling me out of my name behind a computer or wishing harm to my child. My natural reaction to snap back, just the way I was raised. Criticisms of the site never bothered me, but when you make a personal threat that is something totally different.
It took me a long time to realize that people who do that only win if you react. They are so miserable with their lives, they want to bring you down with them. Their lives are tied to social media popularity, but when they turn off their computers what do they have? It is one of the reasons why I travel when I can, I want people to see my face, I want to see things live, I want to live life outside of my keyboard. So, while it is hard for me to hear people say things online, that they would never say to my face, I’ve learn over the last year or so to not feed into the negativity.
That meant cutting off some people, muting some friends and biting my tongue on certain occasions.
Once I learned to do that , not surprisingly a lot more positive things have happened.
All I ever wanted to do was be put in a position where my voice could be heard and I could help others achieve their dreams. When I see all the things that my staff has accomplished this year (and still with months to go), it makes me so proud.
When I see Phil on Sportscenter interviewing players at the NBA Draft Combine or being recognized for his own site Wordonthegame.com living out his dream, that is what it is all about.
When Vashti credentialed as the first female African-American blogger at the Kentucky Derby it blows my mind. When Kel is being interviewed by HBO because they see him as an expert fight analyst right next to the ESPN and SI guys, it puts the biggest smile on my face.
When Showtime executives are emailing saying how Bernard Hopkins thinks Ashley asks the best questions and how they would love to have her back, it is awesome beyond words.
Greg who was with me long time ago and has come back to locked down College Football section of the site and has become an invaluable asset.
Where would I be without Glenn who is up at the crack dawn everyday banging out articles, who is always the first person mentioned anytime I speak with an executive at a major network. The guy is a star and much more talented to me, I am just glad he is on our team.
TJ, Mark, Ron, Natasha and Patrick (he’s white, but still my brother lol) are all talented and together as a team we are pushing 6 million pages views a month (double from this time last year).
As for me, I can’t even describe in words how lucky and blessed I am. I am going to try though, because sometimes I even have to remind myself, I get to talk about sports for a living and they pay me for it.
In the immortal words of Allen Iverson…“how silly is that?”.
I am not an expert, I am not special, I am just a guy who has loved sports all his life and wanted to talk about them and thankfully people think I am good enough to read, listen and watch.
It is truly humbling that first and foremost anyone reads the site and secondly to get opportunities within an industry that is very difficult to break into the mainstream. There are people like Michelle Beadle, Dave Smith, Geoff Ketchum, Richard Deitsch, Jimmy Traina, Patrick Byrne, Jemele Hill, Michael Smith, Billy Corden, Bill Hofheimer, Clarence Hill, Jay Harris, hell even Jason Whitlock and so many more who took a chance on me and gave me opportunities to do things that were unheard of for an independent online media guy just a few years ago.
I have the greatest family of all time and friends who have been by my side in my darkest days and helped me believe there was light at the end of that tunnel. Friends that have literally changed my life for the better and I don’t know what I would do without them. I call them “Bail Out Friends“, the type of friends that would bail you up if you got arrested, that is how you can tell who your real friends are.
I apologize for getting all mushy on you, but I think it is important to understand there is so much more going on than what you see in a post or Tweet, so you understand not just what we do, but why we do it. One thing people always say is that while we speak on other athletes and celebrities lives, how would we feel if someone pulled skeletons out of our closet. I think that is fair, so that is why on occasion I let you into my world, flaws and all. I am definitely not perfect, I try to give everyone a fair shake from Twodels to CEOs, because I know everything in life isn’t black or white, lot of gray in the world.
That was a very long winded way of saying, I am happy, probably the happiest I have been since Dexter went away and that is such a beautiful thing.
So, we are going to keep at it. We will continue to try to bring you the best sports and sports entertainment stories around. We will continue to cover more live events than any independent sports website in the country. I will continue to call out hypocrisy in media, collect the best strugglefaces in the land and take care of the bros (cornball and regular). When there are serious topics I think we have shown we are capable of addressing them in a professional manner, but 90% of the time I am just trying to keep your entertained. It is cold world out there, so if we can make you laugh or at least take your mind off your struggles even briefly that is what I want to do.
I have told this story many times, so my apologies in advance if you heard it before, but when my daughter was about to celebrate her 1st Christmas, I lost my job and I had no money to get her any gifts. I am not overly religious or emotional, but that night I cried and asked God for help. Now, the funny part is that I sold Tupac mixtapes on Ebay to get Christmas money, but a week after Randy Moss faked mooned the Packers crowd, Joe Buck lost his mind and on a porn message board someone said there should be a site to talk about stuff like this. That is how BSO was born. A fake mooning, Joe Buck and a porn forum. God has a sense a humor, but I do believe BSO was sent to save me even if I didn’t know it at the time.
I told that story to El while I was writing this, she was sleep the whole time but I wouldn’t have it any other way.