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The 1000th WCSN article: a retrospective

By
Updated: January 24, 2013

We have a long way to go, but it’s amazing how far we’ve come.

Pausing to reflect

Sometimes a man reaches a milestone that leaves him feeling solemn and contemplative as he looks back on how far he’s come, and he knows that no matter how hard he tries, no words he can come up with will strike quite the right chord. Yet at the same time, he finds himself exhilarated with the accomplishment and eager to press on.

Today we at Water Cooler Sports reach one of those important milestones together.

I have the honor of writing and publishing the 1000th WCSN article.

It’s hard to believe how far we have come in nine short months. We have gone from being a crude, amateurish blog no one had ever heard of to being a full-fledged, professional-looking website that is considered one of the reputable sources of information and analysis on the NFC North. And now that we are attracting fans of the NFC South, perhaps in another nine months we’ll be considered experts on that division too. And then nine months after that, maybe the entire NFL — perhaps the NHL and NBA as well.

We can always dream.

But more importantly than all that, these months together have forged us into a tight-knit community of passionate fans drawn knit together with a bond of mutual respect. We have been there for each other through the highs and the lows — the joys of birth, the sorrow of death, the excitement of promotions, the frustration of job losses, the thrill of new love, and the pang of separation. We have told raunchy jokes, blasted each other in bitter debates, called each other names, empathized with each other’s gripes, and lent a listening ear at odd moments of the night.

The debates might get a little raucous around here, but underneath it all, we genuinely seem to like one other.

Even though I have yet to most of you in person, I have come to consider many of you my colleagues and friends, and I can only hope that you think the same of me and of one another.

Starting from scratch

As I look back on our humble beginnings, I am continually surprised by how quickly this site took off.

I was a newcomer to the core community that coalesced around this site. I know the idea of creating a new site had been bandied about for some time, but as is usually the case with such projects, it had languished in inertia and indecision.

One April morning, I had a few hours to spare and thought it would be an interesting challenge. I had no idea how many people would actually follow through with it, but there was only way to find out. I bought a domain name, set up a forum, and started a blog. I pasted a single link . . . and within minutes there were dozens — nay, scores — of people checking us out. It was breathtaking. I had literally nothing to show them, yet folks were responding with enthusiasm, even gratitude.

Although being involved in a site like this was a dream come true for me, I had no delusions of grandeur. I had been involved with another site where the owner had tried for years to get members to submit original content — to make it a reputable source of news and information — and his entreaties had repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. Content is the lifeblood of any site, and I had no idea how we were going to produce enough to keep people interested, much less noticed by the outside world.

Explosive growth

Imagine my gratified surprise when you lept at the opportunity to write articles for this site. In the early weeks of this site, we had such an abundance of articles that I could hardly keep up.

Maybe Andy Froehle can draft a freckle chart depicting how fast we’ve grown.

Of course, the initial enthusiasm eventually waned a bit. Some people got bored and drifted away. Others disagreed with our philosophy or methods and found other communities with which they felt more compatible.

But the core of you persevered. You kept after one another and after me to ensure this site would become the best it can be. Each of you contributed in your own way, and here we are, after 1,000 articles, with a nucleus of dedicated writers, a growing body of membership, a (reasonably) professional-looking website, and the funds to keep going strong. In fact, it’s my own fault that we  didn’t reach the millennial mark earlier; we haven’t released nearly as much content lately as we should.

Needless to say, this site wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of all of you, which means I have a plethora of people to thank. I am already running on too long, though, so I will only name a few. I hesitate to name anyone for fear of forgetting someone.

Authors

It’s our faithful authors who keep this site afloat and make it the high-quality source of analysis and commentary that it is.

I want to tip my hat first of all to Luke Hendricks, who labors day after day to bring us the morning links. WCSN wouldn’t release a fraction of the content it does if it weren’t for our morning comedian.

Another of our most prolific writers is our Chicago Bears beat writer, Johnathan Wood. He has always made sure that his articles were both timely and relevant, while maintaining an admirable sense of professionalism and objectivity. Besides his beat writing, he has undertaken an impressive number of time-consuming statistical projects that help set this site apart. He also took the time to serve as commissioner of our first annual DST fantasy league.

I also want to acknowledge our Detroit Lions Lions beat writer, Russ Thomas. He has faced one of the toughest assignments on this site – chronicling the woes of the Lions — with determination and wry humor. He was one of our primary sources of analytical articles during the dry spell of the 2012 offseason, and I am grateful for that. Who could forget his exhaustive “Know Your Enemy” series?

Our NFC South beat writers, Joe Mixon and Tyler Norris, joined the team in the middle of the season and widened the scope of this site from its original NFC North focus. Without their efforts, WCSN might have remained a provincial blog instead of growing into an inclusive sports site. We can only hope that Joe and Tyler have planted a seed that will bear fruit next season in coverage of all NFC South teams.

We might be a bunch of nerds at WCSN, but at least we’re funny nerds.

Kudos go out to Patrick Bates, who developed our Black and Blue Defensive Rating System. He enlivens his articles with a wonky sense of humor that makes a dry topic a pleasure to read.

Speaking of dry topics, we can’t forget about our SportsNerd columnist, Andy Froehle, who has harnessed his considerable expertise to analyze football with a statistical rigor hardly seen anywhere else.

Three different people took up the mantle of writing the WCSN Power Rankings this year: K. Moss, Paul Childers, and John Jedlicka. They all did an excellent job of applying an acerbic brand of humor to the knotty problem of ranking an entire league, and they occasioned much hilarity among our ranks.

Finally, we can’t forget about our resident chef, Aaron Bowers, whose Gameday Grub  column kept us well provisioned for the rigors of an NFL season.

Site Staff

In addition to writing a number of opinion pieces and running our Water Cooler Sports Pick’em Contest, Mike Gabelbauer found the time to serve as content manager for the site. If it hadn’t been for his insistence on punctuality, it’s doubtful our articles would have come out as regularly as they did. 

When she wasn’t writing Power Rankings, Ms. K. Moss was busy making connections for us in capacity of public relations director. It was she who brought Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to this site for a Celebrity Chat. She is in large measure responsible for the standing we have in the sportswriting world.

Nathan Niemerg has been extremely helpful to me behind the scenes, volunteering his time to help code sections of this site and customize them for our needs. This site would not look nearly as professional as it does were it not for his expertise.

Benefactors

Spurred on by a vision much like mine, Jason Nardiello created his own NFC North site, “NFC North and More,” at the same time WCSN was founded. Realizing that our best chances for success lay in uniting our efforts, he graciously agreed to join his site with ours, which is why  now redirects here. So strong was his belief in our efforts that he has continued to make generous financial contributions, which have allowed us to upgrade our hosting and improve the professionalism of what we do. In a very real sense, he is the man behind behind the curtain, and I am deeply grateful to him.

The aforementioned Luke Hendricks, champion of our first-annual IDP fantasy league, elected to donate his winnings to the site, and IDP commissioner K. Moss made a contribution on top of that. Moments like this make me realize how special our community is.

Members

To all of you who gather here on a daily — or even just an occasional — basis, I want to say thank you. I swear that you have added years to my life with all the laughter you have brought me in the past few months. Sure, there’s been a few times I have wanted to tear my hair out, but it’s all been in good fun, and it’s certainly been worth it. You are the reason why I’m up early every morning and often up into the wee hours. It’s a blast.

Looking forward

We have gone through many changes in the past nine months, and there are many more to come. It’s hard to believe, but we are already on the third design of this site. Each new rebuild has improved the usefulness and visual appeal of this site. Right now we have enough funding to sustain the site as it is for at least another year.

We will achieve our big dreams, even if we have to build our ladder to get there.

But as I said before, we have dreams. We have dreams of expanding our coverage beyond the NFC North and NFC South. We have dreams of being able to pay our authors, who currently are volunteering their time and knowledge. We have dreams of being able to send our dedicated writers to training camps, practices, and games as bona fide members of the press. We have dreams of growing a thriving, passionate community of members who are excited to share the experience of WCSN with others.

In short, we have dreams of growing without losing our connection to the roots that got us where we are today. That means that what we do and how we do it will always be evolving, but hopefully we will remain grounded in our identity.

As we say in our Mission Statement, we want to “provide a refuge where uncompromising sports fans can stoke the flames of old rivalries, forge new bonds of camaraderie, and express their opinions in a spirit of candor unparalleled anywhere else.”

With your help, we will continue to do just that.

About the author(s)

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for Water Cooler Sports. He resides with his family in the Twin Cities. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

643 comments
Tribe
Tribe

This shit is from January. You fucked up Kevin

Benjamin Rajile
Benjamin Rajile

There's a new article,

But it's a hate free zone so only those accepting of all breeds of dog are allowed


Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Manti Te'o admits he's never understood what the big deal was with the end of the movie "The Crying Game"

robertj72
robertj72

The Spagnola hire was always suspicious to me. His style of D could not have been a worse mismatch. To bring in a guy that thrived for a very short period by having a strong front line reek havoc in the backfield to a team with no one to implement that style. In my most conspiratorial mind, Spagnola was a perfect pawn to look like you were goingafter a top flight coach while simultaneously setting the team up to fail during his absence. We know Payton is a genius. Somehow, a man shamed and unprecedentedly suspended, managed to have his reputation enhanced (as well as his wallet) while he sat at home in a time out!!

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I was crunching some numbers, and it turns out pugs are ugly, and their owners are gay.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

My college is having an alumni 3-on-3 basketball tournament, where each team only has to have one alum on it.  I'm considering recruiting a couple guys I play basketball with at Northwestern (including one who used to play at Vanderbilt) as ringers.  

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

I'm pretty optimistic about the Bears right now.  The Lovie regime was getting stale, and obviously wasn't producing results so the change to Trestman is pretty refreshing.  And I don't go for the repeated comments that the defense is too old.  Paea, Melton, Wooton, Jennings, Roach, Wright, and Conte are all 2-4 year guys who stepped up big-time this year, and Tillman, Briggs, and Peppers are still all-pro caliber.  Urlacher is the weak link unfortunately, so I'm expecting him to move on.  

Ultimately Trestman has to get from the offense something Lovie never could, which is pretty much anything consistent.  

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

So, the Saints fired their shitty defensive coordinator. Jealous, Maized?

G & G
G & G moderator

 I love gay dogs.. I mean Pugs!

robertj72
robertj72

I think they all taste delicious!

Childerz...
Childerz...

  WORK SUCKS! I KNOW !! SHE LEFT ME A PORNO ON THE STAIRS!!! NOW I'M FAPPING WITH MY TEARS!!! SAY IT AIN'T SO I WILL NOT BLOW TURN THE LIGHTS OFF WORK IT REAL SLOW!!! 

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

 I'm sure that thought haunts him at night while he sleeps upon his stack of money.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

 

I see they are planning on going to a 3-4. It will be interesting to see who they get to run  it.

Childerz...
Childerz...

  This last season played right into his hands... it couldnt' of gone any better for Payton.. he looks like a freaking Genius and he's richer than before because of it... Bravo Sean Bravo! 

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

 Not to mention the fact that he was thrown into an un-winnable situation. Even a good DC would have struggled with so little time and so much drama going on.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

 he is poised to look like a savior if NO can return to glory this year

robertj72
robertj72

*a worse match...sorry for the confusing double negative.

G & G
G & G moderator

 Scoooooped!

Childerz...
Childerz...

 FIRST TRUTH NUKE OF THE DAY!!!!!!!! 

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

 The difference between Chicago's defense in 2011 and 2012 was that the young guys stepped up.  Melton and Jennings played like stars, and the other young guys gave them average-level production.  Hopefully the young guys can keep that up.

Benjamin Rajile
Benjamin Rajile

  

I think they mostly fired him because he's got a stupid accent

Benjamin Rajile
Benjamin Rajile

   

It's about time we got some Koreans to start reading this blog!

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

  like with Chicago's OL, the problem there is more lack of talent than coaching

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

  compared to an NAIA D-2 school?  Yeah.  

Childerz...
Childerz...

 yeah we ain't none to wurried bout nun that engrish crap around here

Childerz...
Childerz...

 you don't even need to hire anonymous just talk about Irma a lot and magically every idiot on here posts some sort of picture 

Benjamin Rajile
Benjamin Rajile

     

Also I'm hiring Anonymous to hack this site and put pictures of Irma everywhere

G & G
G & G moderator

    Bleacher report?

Benjamin Rajile
Benjamin Rajile

     

I'm going to a new blog where all pets are accepted.

Also I'm filing a sexual harassment claim

Childerz...
Childerz...

 He didn't offer you $1 and a bottle of sprite to have sex with his pug??

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

  What?  Reddick is the exact same player as me.  We're both skinny white guys who shoot well and aren't that athletic.  

The only difference is that he's taller, quicker, more athletic, stronger, and a better shot.  Besides that, we're IDENTICAL!

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

  Pssh.  I would totally pwn JJ Reddick.

Childerz...
Childerz...

 your classmates probably have Ex-Duke players or something you won't stand a chance

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

    

I had a tweetable comment on that earlier.