Starting a sports website, and watching it crash

As an online programmer, people often make the comment to me, “Oh, it’ll be easy for you.”

For the most part, things are fairly easy for me when it comes to projects like this, however there is so much time involved. I don’t believe people really understand just the amount of effort that it takes to launch a brand new site.

This new sports project began months ago with a discussion in a swimming pool. That’s right. It was probably around 3 a.m. when my business partner in this venture, longtime local sports writer Terry Massey, and I were quietly swimming in a local pool. As we talked about some other projects that I was involved in, the idea for a content based local sports site began to take shape. When the discussion ended and we parted ways for the evening, my thoughts drifted to other projects and other ideas.

My partner never lost sight of the plan. When he telephoned me at nearly 3  a.m. on the night of my birthday ( I, of course, assumed that he was calling  to say ” Happy Birthday”) but he was calling because he simply couldn’t get the idea doing a local sports site out of his head. He said that he had been thinking of every way possible to make something like this happen, and most thoughts involved me. That made sense to me.

We talked for a bit, and agreed to meet the next day. He of course wanted to talk further about the project right then, since he was so on fire for the idea. I wanted to go to bed and did everything I could to listen, yet remind him that we could discuss it tomorrow.

When we did meet, the ideas in his mind meshed with mine quickly. The opportunity was there. Local coverage of sports was on the decline, not that it had ever existed in a large part anyway. Now, I must say there have been some groups and individuals that have contributed significantly to local sports coverage. WPDE, with Mark Haggard and Rich Chrampanis come to mind. As does Allen Smothers, the bad boy of sports radio. In addition, departed media members Justin Felder, and Matt Lincoln did their share. But the reality is that local coverage is indeed declining.

I’m reminded of the swimming coach that begged the local newspaper for years to cover his events. The Roller Derby team that begged for coverage, the volleyball teams that just wanted to display their kids that worked so hard.  These folks were on my mind everyday during the development of this site.

When I started speaking with folks in the community about our idea, I knew it would be a hit.

My partner and I set a launch date, and began the process. He spent 12-15 hours a day creating content, and I spent 12-15 hours a day programing what you see now. We would speak daily and meet weekly.

As our launch day of September 26th approached, I found the need to “turn on” the site so that I was able to see changes in real time. I officially “turned on” the site on September 19th, and we started seeing traffic immediately.

As the days progressed, we were doubling our traffic everyday. Three days before the official launch and we were beyond our wildest dreams on the amount of visitors we were receiving on a daily basis. It was pretty incredible to see those numbers reach so high.

Launch Day! September 26th was finally here and we were ready to go. Everything went very smoothly that day. As I prepared for bed that Monday night around 2am, I took a sleeping pill so that I could zonk out without worries. At 2:30am as I was closing everything up, the server crashed.

Yep, Day 2 would start with me trying desperately to stay awake while reading page after page of PHP code. It was a long night, with a couple of hours of sleep and then back at it. The work continued until around 2 p.m. when everything was finally fixed. Talk about a nightmare scenario. Wow.

So, we continue the project.

There have been many people that have joined in to help us and I expect many more. Really, this project is more than just my partner and I. I can easily count at least eight others who are at least partially involved, and that doesn’t count the Athletic Directors and Coaches that have all jumped on board. This has become a fantastic journey.

I want to make sure to thank those that are currently helping and supporting us. I’m very proud to cover local sports. It’s something that I’ve done for over 20 years now and the depth of coverage that we are providing is greater than anything I’ve ever seen.

Please continue to share our site with your friends. Please continue to share our site on Facebook. You’re support means the world to us, and especially to these kids and programs that have long gone unnoticed. It’s my privilege and pleasure to share their successes with you.

 

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One response to “Starting a sports website, and watching it crash”

  1. M Armstrong says:

    Congrats on the new site! I know first hand how much heart and soul is put into a project like this before it becomes a reality. I wish you MUCH success and thank you for what you do!

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