It’s been five days. I think I’ve figured out how I feel about the Florida Gators’ spring game.
Sure, I wrote summary sentences last Saturday...
There were things for Florida fans to be excited about for the fall and for the future in this game, yes — but you had to squint to see them, and sit through the silliness to even have that opportunity.
Several more months will have to pass before we have an idea of whether the Gators will meet their fans’ standard for exciting fall football seasons.
...but that’s both empirically true and not a full encapsulation of my feelings.
I think “Remember the ‘90s?”-style nostalgia is dumb; I see the value of it for Florida, which gave fans with fond memories of Lawrence Wright and Travis McGriff a reason to tell their children about them in the stands of The Swamp on Saturday and gave the players with good feelings about the Gators a reason to come home for a weekend.
I think counting stunt touchdowns in a spring game is dumb; I also think throwing bombs pleased a huge swath of the Florida fans in attendance who were hoping to see explosiveness from an offense and weren’t going to get what they wanted from Dan Mullen’s semi-installed scheme as run by the 2018 Florida roster.
I think hoping to glean any sort of empirical truths from a spring game is dumb, and probably presumptuous — if, at least, noble. I also see the value in keeping things as vanilla as possible to make the game tape worthless for opponents and keep players from transferring — some of them, anyway — after realizing their place in the pecking order or their distance from taking snaps on a fall Saturday.
And so I realized something: This spring game wasn’t for me, someone who wasn’t there to peruse the Gator Garage Sale or get food from a food truck. It wasn’t for me, someone who watches football for more than just the razzle-dazzle. It wasn’t for me, a Florida fan who will be around and faithful whether the Gators are great or horrible. (I got a fundraising call from a UF student last week who asked me about what I do, and I explained the writing about sports bit; the depression in her voice as she explained that “we’re good some sports, just not football” — yes, ma’am, I know — was even more profound than the defeat when I told her I had no money to give.) It wasn’t for me, the diehard without the millions to make myself an integral part of it.
If you’re reading this blog post, spending minutes or hours of your time worrying about the relative merits of Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks in April, it probably wasn’t for you, either.
And that’s fine. Not everything has to be for everyone.
But Florida’s spring game not being for me is a weird realization to have.
And that reinforced another realization: We need more voices and viewpoints and perspectives here at Alligator Army, and I need to do more to solicit and publish and promote them.
We — read: I — never did really follow through on adding new writers, like I said we wanted to do in December 2016. I exchanged emails with more than a few candidates, but not enough with enough, and I dropped the ball on bringing a few on. And I think we’ve suffered for that over the last year, as leli and I have been the monolithic voices here.
So I’m opening the floodgates again.
All the instructions and context at that link above still apply; the assistant editor role is still something we can massage into existence, if you’re really, really interested in writing regularly, can do so competently, and want to be paid a small stipend for your efforts. You’ve got a much better chance of standing out if you have a niche interest — especially if that’s, say, football recruiting — or a unique perspective or demonstrated capability, but I’m willing to take all submissions seriously. (I would ask that use “Alligator Army contributor” in your subject line, for ease of inbox-diving ... but I’ll figure it out if you don’t.)
And if you don’t want to do that in a formalized role: I want to explicitly encourage you to use the FanPost feature available to you to say what’s on your mind. We do a good job, I think, of fostering community feedback here, but that sometimes translates to people leaving long, digressive comments that might work better as posts. If you’re inclined to do that? Definitely consider dropping me an email, but also consider putting a few paragraphs in a FanPost, hitting publish, and letting us see it. I promise I’ll be reading and responding to them as I see them.
To circle back to the point of this post: Not everything has to be for everyone. But I do want Alligator Army to be a place where everyone can get something for him, her, or themself, and part of that is making it a place where everyone can contribute.
So I encourage you to do that. At the very least, I’m listening.