By: Daniel Reynolds
You can tell when interest or inclination are on their down slope in the life cycle of a blog. Wait, excuse me, website. We won’t use the word blog here — somehow, it cheapens the work. In any case, one has only to check the archives by month to see the volume of posts. Go ahead and look here on this venerable website’s main page, you’ll see. The heady days of 15-20 posts in a month — our usual target — are gone. It’s been a steady, sad decline these last few months. But take heart, this is usually how it goes for semi-personal blogs, er, I mean, websites. And that’s just how it goes for the Same Page Team. We tried our best.
The genesis of the idea is not difficult to track. It began as two dudes writing about the topics that interested them. How novel. On some random summer weeknight in 2012, Chris Dagonas and I were at a comedy show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. We had beers in our hands, and Hannibal Buress had yet to hit the stage. We knew it was unlikely we’d ever write for Grantland — this, before it disappeared — but, with sports and culture on the mind, we had things we wanted to broadcast, from one of the greatest cities on the planet. That sounded like a good enough starting point for us. I’d get to write about movies and such, Chris could talk up some sports and miscellany, and we’d bug our friends to fill in the rest. Those early days saw us recruit from anywhere and everywhere. It didn’t take long for Dan Grant to cotton on to what we were doing and cannonball in with typical aplomb. The editorial backbone of the Same Page was set; a blueprint established.
There were problems with our plan, of course. Chris and I settled on the site’s name based on a common understanding of experience. Whatever happened to be swirling around us at any given moment, we were still, you guessed it, on the same page. (This confirmation was usually accompanied by a mimed gesture of opening a book and pointing to a page; we’re cool dudes.) As we know now, using same, page, and team as a web address is an SEO nightmare. That was the first lesson to learn. Another pro-tip learned way too late: make an attempt to not just use a free default piece of junk theme for the first two years of your existence. For many who came to Same Page in those early days, we didn’t exactly escape the “blog” moniker, even as we continued to add more contributors and get our first taste of success (such as it was). It behooves me now to make special thanks to Paul for his early commitment, my brother Dennis for the talents he almost doesn’t know he has, Ian for producing our first viral post, Kristen for writing the second, Nick for deigning to spend the time, Tom for bringing a touch of credibility, to Jordan for being way out of our league but contributing anyway, and Steph for doing our first truly international reporting. She won’t read this, but I’ll thank Stephanie here for her help in designing and building the site’s look, and editing my dumb words when she could. I know it’s not enough — it will never actually be enough — but thank you. In those early (and later) days, we needed all the help we could get.
You know what, let’s just thank everyone by name here. All of these people gave their time, for no other reason than they wanted to write something (or because I hassled them enough): to Richie for finding his niche, to Joanna for some artistic class, to Patrick for cool, to Dave for passion, to Alex for a sense of humour, to Joe for absolute conviction, to Samson for at least getting something done, to Jared even though I wish you could have done more, to Ashley Cooper for helping out, same to Kellam, to Nick Fernandes for bringing in the academic touch, to Kaitlin for hanging in, to Kathleen for chipping in, to Andrew for plugging away, to Stefania for that inspired idea, to Scott Alic for his intensity, and Scott Speers for his conviviality, to Fab for mixing it up, to Susan for her energy, to Bernhard for his righteous indignation, to Saman for the field work, to Joshua for his enthusiasm, to Daniel for his expertise, to John for his multimedia skills, and to Russell and Sean for pitching in while the ship sank. I have no idea what, if anything, you got out of typing up those words, but know that we couldn’t have done it without you. Whatever “it” is, the Same Page owes itself to all the contributions that came in from far and wide. Thanks today and forever.
When we began the site, we had dreams of building it into something bigger than it was. We wanted people to read, and to care. In some cases, they did. Our site traffic, you’ll be happy to learn, did gradually grow over the five years we were in business. It was never not satisfying to see that, or to run into someone and have them tell me they’d been reading our work. As the size of the Trenches grew (somehow we talked 34 of you into contributing), it always brought a smile to my face to regard all the work we’d managed to produce. In exactly five years, we published 732 columns — cue the obvious joke — and tried out a multitude of different ideas. There were recurring columns that persisted, others that didn’t, week long features, an entire summer dedicated to Seinfeld, reports filed from different countries, and coverage of every topic from Rob Ford, to Frida Kahlo, to Satantango, to John Gibbons, and back again. In truth, we were never going to find a specific audience because, as we eventually realized, the motivating idea behind the Same Page was far too broad. We just got everyone to write about whatever it was they were interested in. It was a foolproof plan, until it wasn’t.
Five years is a long time. (I mean, yikes, look at that picture above.) For some perspective: Chris is now about half the size as his author photo (I’m only slightly exaggerating) and has a baby on the way. Dan lives in Toronto now (he started writing while residing in Scotland), he’s become a teacher, and he’s married. I don’t have as many monumental things to report. I’ve moved a few times, changed jobs, gained a new following as a Raptors blogger (er, reporter), and continue to, I don’t know… continue? The Same Page, which embraced the Team suffix later, became a way to communicate with others, and broadcast my thoughts and feelings on various subjects that felt important to me. It connected me to a whole swaths of new people, and for that I am eternally grateful. In retrospect, I read our initial tagline (“You may just end up agreeing with us”) and it sounds a tad too harsh. I wasn’t really trying to convince anyone of anything (least of all myself). I just wanted to create a forum to share what I was passionate about. In that final aspect: we made it.
If, over the last five years, you read one of our columns, let me say now: thanks for reading. If this is the first article of ours you happen to have stumbled on: welcome. The archives will stay up for as long as I care to pay to maintain them (so, probably for life), and I believe there’s much more on the site still to enjoy. I want to thank you all for clicking whichever random link brought you here, and for giving us a chance. If nothing else, we had a fun time doing the work.
Now, on behalf of Chris and Dan, and the rest of the team, I say goodbye. I’m glad you all took a moment to join us here on, yes… the Same Page.