Five Media Things: Pro Day Upcoming, and the Difficulty of Arguments

Written by Kyle Porter

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this column last week and will do my best to keep it fresh every time out. As always, you can find OSU’s weekly athletics schedule here, but let’s take a look at the week that was and what’s upcoming for the Cowboys (and Cowgirls).

What I’m excited about

Mason Rudolph, Chris Lacy, Marcell Ateman, James Washington and several other Cowboys will run and jump and speak on Thursday at Oklahoma State’s pro day in Stillwater at 10 a.m. Lacy noted that he hopes to run something in the 4.4s on Thursday, and others will be showing their skills for the first time this offseason. Should be a full house, and we’ll have Luke Garza and (possibly) Jackson Lavarnway there to cover it.

Oklahoma State Football Pro Day: Thursday, March 15, Stillwater, OK

A media thing I think I believe

I wrote about this a little bit in my five thoughts on OSU’s NCAA snub. Choosing teams for the NCAA Tournament is a really difficult endeavor because of how many statistics there are. That doesn’t absolve the silliness of using an archaic formula like the RPI, but it does (hopefully) provide some sympathy for those involved (or maybe not).

On the flip side of that, covering all of this is utterly chaotic for the national media. You’re trying to write intelligently about teams you’ve maybe seen three times in a given year using avalanches of data that sometimes conflicts itself. You’re essentially just picking a piece of data, constructing an argument around it and hoping there’s not too much evidence running against you.

I’ve found the formulation of arguments to be one of the more interesting parts of being in the media. I might watch six shots of a Rickie Fowler round before I’m expected to go live on “TV” to talk about it. Six shots! What are you supposed to glean from six shots? Fitting single rounds or single games into the bigger narrative and properly contextualizing them is a difficult, messy work. Taking anything small and using it as a legitimate, accurate microcosm is really, really hard.

I have a lot of respect for people in the media who are able to build clear arguments and present them in an intelligible way. It’s very difficult, and it makes what the Brandel Chamblees and Joel Klatts of the world do so impressive.

What I’m reading

I’m almost done with the Underground Airlines. It’s good so far. Not sure if it’s great, but it’s certainly worth reading. In non-novel reading, I devoured this piece on Ben Falk, who started his own hoops site last year. He’s described as a geekier Zach Lowe, and he charges $7.50 a month for subscribing to his hoops site. The piece hit on everything I’m interested in — thinking properly,  monetizing a site, writing about sports. It’s phenomenal, and despite my discouragement that Falk was able to collect over 2,000 subscribers in less than a year (!), it also showed me that it can be done.

Here was probably the best takeaway.

At the same time, how replicable is Ben’s site, really? How many other humans combine his package of front office experience, deep statistical knowledge, basketball acumen, programming and design proficiency, and the ability to write for a lay audience? I don’t know the answer, but I’m guessing the number is lower than ten. It might well be zero.

Then again, maybe that’s a misleading way to frame it. It makes sense that Falk is good at doing the thing he’s most suited to do. Naval Ravikant, the AngelList founder and tech-age philosopher, of whom Hinkie and Falk are fans, is fond of saying “Be you because nobody in the world can compete with you at it.” [SI]

Contribution and Site Updates

We are at 318 contributors. That hasn’t changed since last week. After reading about Falk, I’m even more frustrated with the way we’ve grown (or not grown). I’m currently in the lab right now cooking up a 2.0 version of what our system is going to look like and will report back soon.

Site Growth

Pageviews through Mar. 11, 2018: 2.6M
Pageviews through Mar. 11, 2017: 2.8M
Most popular post of March: Boynton emphatic about OSU’s chances
Most popular post of 2018: Spencer out as DC

Other Stuff I’m Writing

I won’t do this every week, but I wrote a couple of pieces I’m proud of in the last week.