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Football University - Building cred at MHR / Part 1

How does one get a diary promoted to the front page?  How does a member get the respect of fellow members and build a rep?  What makes a good diary, and is the "comment count" really important?

Most of what you need to be on top of your game at MHR has little to do with how good your essay skills are and a lot more to do with attitude.  When you stop worrying about being a sports writer and look at other members as family, you are already half of the way there.

We'll step back from football Xs and Os and look at how to build your own gameplan for building yourself up as a proud member of MHR.  It's draft time in the reloading season, so I don't want to remove any focus from what's really important.

This week I'm going to focus on humilty, both on MHR as well as football in general.

Click on "read more" to get started!

Attitude is everything for a member of MHR.  You don't have to be a great writer, nor do you even have to write.  Attitude in this case means how you look at MHR and how you look at yourself and fellow members.

Some things will change when MHR goes over to the new format.  Diaries will be called something else, but will become more prominant in the scheme of things.  Front page stories will still have a place, but member written articles will increase in noticability while front pagers drop a little bit.  This is great, because (as Guru always says) the site is all about the members, not the editors.

Let's take a look at some ideas about how to build some MHR cred.

What makes a good diary?

First, diaries aren't a competition.  Never worry about if your diary is as good as someone else's.  Write what you think is pertinent to football or the Broncos without worrying about if it is "professional enough".

Next, keep on top of the comments in your diary.  If someone takes the time to write a comment, consider commenting back.  Be sure to thank folks who give you or your diary a kind word.  

If someone disagrees with something you wrote, take it as a compliment!  Agreement or disagreement isn't a commentary on your work, it's a conversation.  And people converse on interesting diaries whether or not they agree on the content.

Plus, whenever you create a discussion in the comments threads you are increasing the comments in your diary.  Many members go to read anything that has a new comment, whether the diary is to their liking or not.

How important are the number of comments you get?

In terms of the site they are very important because the comments sections (where members get together to post) are the heart and soul of the site.  But in terms of self worth comment counts mean nothing.

Notice how the godfather of MHR (Guru himself) will sometimes post a front page story and it receives zero comments.  Is he any less of a writer?  Or how about the Mdierk "Horse Tracks" articles that may not generate a ton of comments.  It clearly isn't a grade on someone's work.

I recently got well over a hundred comments in a recent article I wrote, but aroud half of the comments were personal attacks against me and our team, and the rest (for the most part) were folks trying to reason with someone who was more concerned with arguing for the sake of arguing.  I jokingly commented that I was grateful to the offending (since banned) person for my comment count, but in truth I was dissapointed that there was little discussion about my article.  In this case, the high comment count meant zero towards the value of my article (just as low counts mean zero towards other articles).

If you must be concerned with how many people read your diary, add a poll.  People love to have their opinions heard, and polls are hard for most members to pass up on taking part in.  I have written diaries with very few comments, but many, many poll contributers.  I knew I was getting read!

How important is spelling, grammer, and other English stuff like that?

Do your best, and don't worry beyond that.  We have some foreign members of MHR who do a great job, and nobody notices any errors.  In fact, it is bad manners to point out if someone makes a mistake(s).  The better you do, the easier the diary is to read.  But we're family here, and we all recognize that there are different backgrounds involved.  I'm a pretty educated guy, and I was even a teacher once upon a time ago, but I make my share of mistakes.

This isn't English class.  It's a place to share about your favorite team and sport.  Just do your best.

What are some of the attitude ideas you're talking about?

This week I'm going to focus on humility.

Be humble.  I'll never forget a nerdy kid coming up to me at the school where I coached defense.  He had a piece of scrap paper in his hand, and told me he had designed a play for our football team to use.  Inside I was thinking "Oh my God!"

It gets worse.  The kid (who looked like he had never picked up a football in his life) said he designed it on his Madden NFL game on his home computer.  Out of sheer politeness I looked at the play and it was just horrible.  It was a massive blitz play that I would never consider, and the diagram was almost unintelligable.

I told him I'd take a closer look at it later and thanked him for it.  A couple of days later I saw him in the hall and the kid had enough spunk to come up to me and ask what I thought about it.  He looked like he would be crushed if I said anything but something positive about it.  "Don't tell a soul or I'll kick your scrawny little butt", I told him "but I'm going to use your play tomorow night".  The kid lit up and asked me to tell him how it went when school resumed on Monday.  "Won't you be there?" I asked.

"I can't afford it."

I made sure he got a ticket for the game, and told him he could hang with the team on the sideline if he stayed out of the way.  He looked nervous, and after some prodding I found out that I had a few bullies on the team that he was worried about.  I saw a coaching opportunity and jumped on it.

I wasn't the head coach, but I was good at firing up the team and did most of the locker room pep talks.

I told the "men" that this was our field, and those were our fans, friends, and family in the stands.  Right now an army from across town was coming to spit on our field, to tear down our school's flag, and to take our cheerleaders.  (This got a few chuckles).  But as I went on the team got more serious.  I poured it on about how we were the only thing between our opponents and our fans.  About how I expected our players to vanquish the enemy or die trying in the last trench of the last battle in the last minute of the last quarter of the game.  It was corny, but the kids were eating it up.  They started punching each other on the shoulder pads and yelling.  "Do or die" was written all over their faces.

Then I told them that to ensure our victory, I had brought a secret weapon.  "I picked out a member of the student body to stand with us on the sideline.  He isn't a warrior like you, but he's from our school and he's one of ours.  He isn't strong, he isn't pretty, he isn't your best friend.  But he's your mission tonight.  If the other team gets to him, they've gotten past you.  If they get past him, they get to our people in the stands.  He represents everybody that's out there that took the time and the money to come see you win this game.  It's (I said the boy's name), and tonight your job is to guard him on the scoreboard.  Some of you may think he's a runt.  But a runt from our school is better than the captain of the football team from their school!"

Like I said, corny as all heck, and risky too.  But it worked.  I had a good bunch of kids that took what I said to heart.  They played strong and hard, and when the right moment came for a blitz I told the boy (falsely) that his play was coming up.  I only blitzed a couple of players, but on the sideline the effect was the same.  He thought it was really his play.  Several of the players took the kid under their wing, and I forgot about the whole thing a few days later.

Later in the academic year I learned that the boy was thinking about suicide, and had called one of his friends to talk about it.  The friend told the school counselor who got the kid into some professional help.  It turned out the friend was one of the football players who had befriended the boy during the game.

I could have followed my first instinct and ignored the play the boy submitted.  I could have also brushed the kid off with a friendly "Yeah, we'll run it" and left it at that.  I don't know if the steps I took helped us to win that night (we were not used to losing much anyway).  I also don't know if I had any role in helping the kid get some help when he needed it.  But I look back and I'm glad I handled it the way I did.  It was humility that kept me from being the "big bad" football coach and helped me to spend a little time on a kid that nobody else seemed to bother with.

Humility means not being the "expert".  I like to think I know a bit about Xs and Os, but I also know there are plenty of people who know a lot more.  I also know that there are tons of people who are more up on issues like the salary cap and drafting.  There are also several writers that out perform my writing on a regular basis.  But like I said earlier, it isn't a competition.  We all have a role to play, and if we each do our best then that's enough.

Admit when you're wrong, or when you don't know something.  If you have a question, then ask somebody (members love to be asked questions).  If you read something you like, be sure to compliment the author.

And last (for this week), look at the MHR community as a family.  We're here to support our team, and here to write about it.  We are the great site that we are because we have three things that you don't find on a lot of the sports media sites:

  • Members who show class in their comments by showing tact when they disagree, and are quick to praise,
  • Members who are willing to both share their knowledge as well as learn,
  • Members who look at other members as a part of their network of friends or family, and not just strangers who post in the virtual world.
Next week I'll try to be a little less corny and cover some more on diaries and commenting.

Until then, enjoy the MHR Mock Draft!  Who said the reloading season was boring!