We Are Bleacher Report!

Kara MartinSenior Analyst IMay 12, 2009

In my life I’ve been accused (good and bad) of many things, being a wallflower is not one of them!

If I’ve got something to say, you can bet I’m gonna say it! Sometimes that works in my favor, at other times it bites me directly in the ass! No matter the outcome, I’m just not one to keep that bottled up inside.

After reading Zander Freund’s first entry in the Community Matters section of the B/R Chatter page, it prompted a long-winded response from me.

I have been a member of this website for about eight months and have cherished just about every moment. I found B/R by chance in a tiny ad featured on Facebook. It piqued my curiosity, so I clicked the link and it was love at first “site.”

It was the perfect outlet for me to put the virtual pen to paper and write about a sport that I love passionately.

I didn't know how I would be received or if anyone would even give my articles the time of day. My first comment came from Mary Jo Buchanan, leader for the NASCAR Community. She has supported me from day one, and that was SO special to me. Eight months later, her support and encouragement have not faltered.

The next three members to comment on that first article were S M Napier, L.J. Burgess and David Yeazell. I got some warm welcomes and an instant hard time (thanks old man Burgess)!

It was exactly what I had hoped it would be. I didn't expect sunshine to be blown up my ass or glowing reviews with every word that I wrote. I wanted “real life,” and B/R allowed that to happen.

By article No. 3, Saraswathi Sirigina chimed in for the first time, as did Kelly Crandall, Patti Rodisch, Jen Preston, Rob Tiongson, and M Brian Ladner.

These ten people (all from the Motorsports Communities) quickly became more than fellow colleagues or friends, they truly became family.

Take one look at our individual profiles and you will see that we come from all walks of life. We span the time lines of the ages and represent a variety cultures. It is one hell of a motley crew!

I respect their opinions, admire their individual styles and value their comments—the good, the bad, and the ugly. They were the group of people who allowed me to grow and expand into the writer that I am today. Through them I learned to take chances and fly without a safety net.

Like any tight-knit family, we don’t always agree and at times they will be the first to cut me down a size, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that they will always have my back. These people will be in my life forever, I'm sure of that! I simply adore each of them in their own special ways.

By article No. 4, I got a "Five stars, Pick Of The Day, and chills down the spine..." from the Grand Pooba himself, Zander Freund!

Man, I've got to say that it was such a special feeling to have him read an article and comment about a sport that he didn't even follow!

Since that time I've gotten comments from members of all communities, Gray Ghost, Baby Tate, Long John Silver, Kevin Paul, Lisa Horne, Thomas, Michael Cline, Kirstin Hamlin, Adam Poole....I could go on and on.

People that I admired, who are at the top of their game in their own communities, were reading my articles about the little sport that could, NASCAR. B/R has truly brought sports writers from all walks together. What an awesome concept! It totally worked.

This site has grown so much in the eight months that I have been here. I have had the privilege to get to know new writers with fresh outlooks that add to our community.

The only thing that frustrates me is that so many articles are being churned out on a daily basis, it is hard to keep up at times. We are missing great pieces of work because the next one overshadows the last. We are focusing so much on getting our own latest and greatest out that we occasionally neglect the ones that came before ours.

It is becoming a bit of an assembly line. We are missing valuable opportunities to comment on each others work. I’m talking REAL comments, not just cookie cutter responses. What set B/R apart from every other outlet was the opportunity to talk about the words that the author took the time to produce.

Remember the first article that you as an “Amateur Sportswriter” wrote? If you are like me, you read and re-read it about 25 times before hitting the “publish” button.

Nervous energy flowed through your veins when you got that e-mail from B/R. "Hey Kara, Your article has been published on Bleacher Report.”

It prompted a sickeningly sweet reflex of doubt. Is my article any good? Will people actually read it? What will the response be? It’s a feeling that I get to this day every time that I hit that publish button!

Next came the e-mail that validated it all. “Hey Kara, So-and-So has posted a comment to your article.”

It is a great feeling to know that someone took the time not only to read your labor of love, but also to give you their thoughts about it.

Sadly, some writers on this site aren’t getting that e-mail as often as they should, if at all.

As a community we are no longer embracing one another like we used to. I really miss the love and support of days gone by! I don’t believe that it is done intentionally or out of malice. The sheer volume that is produced from B/R writers makes is impossible to read every article.

It can be overwhelming at times to weed through the sea of narration. It is so easy for us to resort to what feels comfortable, to pick and choose articles from established authors that we have become familiar with.

Our new writers as well as the "old timers" need a reminder of a job well done or a heated debate to stir things up, even the comments that blatantly tell you that “you suck!” can be critically constructive.

It is what makes this site so damn special! I treasure and crave that interaction so much! I want everyone to feel how I felt when I first joined B/R! I want them to share in the experience and have that "can't wait for the next one to come out" kind of feeling.

Lives get in the way. I am just as guilty of letting my own prevent me from commenting on every article that I read.

But, from this point on, if I choose to read an article I am going to take the additional time to comment and let the author know what I think. I'm gonna go all old school, back to the grassroots that made B/R such a unique experience for me.

My suggestion, take a chance!

Pick an article everyday from a new aspiring writer or perhaps a subject that you are unfamiliar with and read it…really read it! Step back into the shoes that we all wore at some point and let that author know your thoughts.

Not one of us would be here if we didn’t want to be. Every writer, reader, and editor on this site has been instrumental in helping to make B/R a huge success. We ALL want it to succeed in the best way! Together we are going to continue to make that happen.

We are Bleacher Report!

After all that wind-baggedry (I know that isn’t a word, but it works for me), Zander  responded with a simple phrase that summed up what I’d been trying to say in 1, 175 words.

“Pay it forward.”

As Zander Freund wrote:

“This may be the best comment of the thread—thanks for telling it like it is Kara."

"It will indeed be a challenge to maintain the personality of the site which hooked you in from day one as we continue to expand. But I am confident that if we all work together we can indeed give our new writers today the same amount of love we gave the writers of Kara's era and before."

"Maybe our new motto as a community should be 'pay it forward?' That's kinda what you're getting at here Kara. We WILL be able to scale the personality of the site, if every member makes it their mission to give back to the new writers the same way that senior contributors once gave to them.

We are Bleacher Report! I love that.”


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