Mental health, a global pandemic, and a big soppy thank you

As the world slowly recovers from a pandemic that has shaken the foundations of just about everything we know, it’s easy to get lost in a sense of total confusion. We’re already six months into a year that has been nothing short of an absolute trainwreck. The good news, so it seems, is that things are finally beginning to look up. With a sense of normality gently falling like a feather from above, I just wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on what’s probably been the toughest landscape I’ve had to navigate at PSN.

I’ve always preached transparency when it comes to Philly Sports Network. I feel like you are just as much a part of this journey as myself or any of our contributors. Without you, there is no us, and for me to be anything less than 100% honest with you would be a disservice to the most passionate fanbase on the planet.

2020 started off incredibly for us. We were hitting milestone after milestone, delivering soppy speeches by the week, and feeling as though we were finally cracking through that glass ceiling as one of the city’s respected media outlets. Then, one by one, sports started to come to a grinding halt. As you can imagine, running a sports media company when there are no sports happening is…interesting.

It wasn’t really the fact that sports were postponed that hurt. Ad rates plummeted as companies were forced into being ultra conservative in such an uncertain time, and of course, views were dropping massively as well since there was no real reason for fans to be checking in on their team.

All of a sudden, everything I knew had just sort of vanished. The routine I had established, gone. The comfort of knowing this was finally a sustainable business against all odds was replaced by paranoia that I’m watching it be gruelingly ripped away from me day-by-day. It was hard from a management perspective to not let that overwhelming sense of existential dread bleed into the words and sentiments I pass onto my team every day. More than anything else, I just didn’t want to let them down. They give everything for this site. Endless hours of writing, research, group chats to form ideas, and constantly lifting one another. I could not fail them now.

To keep them uplifted, creative, ambitious, and motivated wasn’t easy when all I could feel myself was such an all-encompassing fear. I’m so incredibly thankful to Derrik and Tim, my editors who did such a fantastic job in not only taking care of a lot of heavy lifting, but being so influential in inspiring our family every single day, especially on the days where my mental health kicked me to the curb and laughed at me struggling to get back up.

I had to make a really difficult financial decision in the midst of the pandemic in order to keep the site running, pausing pay for our writers with a promise that we will be able to deliver the money earned during this time once we’re back on our feet securely. It genuinely broke me a little. I will always remember the first day I was able to pay contributors. Sat in a coffee shop, listening to ‘Standing on the shoulders of Giants’ by Oasis and creating a spreadsheet. Being able to finally say ‘We did it’ and give back to the most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege to know, let alone work with, meant everything. I felt like I had let them down. Like it was a step back I could’ve somehow avoided. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear or two that night.

We had to be better to just survive. Our best from six months ago all of a sudden counted for little in this bizarre timeline. I had to work harder. But the more pressure I put on myself, the more I overslept, the more I struggled to get out of my own head, and the more I felt like I was being swallowed hole.

I had to give more. I needed to find ways where I could work around this oversleeping mental slump, planning articles beforehand knowing fully well I’ll miss the entire morning. There were days I would push out 3 articles and a video before live-streaming on Twitch for a few hours, not sleeping until 9AM the next day, and others where I struggled to find the energy to move from my bed. But the one constant through all of that was you.

You kept on reading. Kept watching. Kept agreeing/disagreeing. Kept listening and interacting. Kept supporting. It fueled me and everyone here. Knowing that there was a corner in a room filled of Philadelphia sports fans that were willing to stick with us even though sports had totally stopped, truly meant everything. We wanted to stay centric to our identity, keeping things as close to normal as we could without veering into articles about things you just don’t care about. That job was 10x easier with you in our corner rallying us home.

The truth is, Philly Sports Network is everything to me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last six years, it’s that just when you think a punch to the face was hurting enough, something will always kick you in the nuts. But it’s temporary. It’ll sting, but as long as you can stay on your feet, keep your head up, and stay focused, it will pass.

We’re not out of the Woods yet. There’s a long way to go and normalcy is still a pipe-dream as far as the bigger picture is concerned. But I’d like to think we’re over the worst of it.

I don’t think I’d have had that strength if it wasn’t for the endless support of our team here at PSN, and of course, you – the reader. Thank you for not giving up on us and for continuing to humble us every single day with your dedication to the teams you love, and to our content. We’re so, so lucky to call you our family and will never lose sight of that. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, just, thank you.

#PSNSZN

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