February of 2012 we started this thing called Fan-I Sports. My very first post was titled ″Kendall′s State of Sports Address″ It was to give people an idea of how I viewed sports and what they should expect from me as a sports writer.
Almost 5 years later, I′ve experienced things that have altered my viewpoint on sports. Five years ago, I was strictly a fan and only wanted to look at sports as a fan. Fast forward to now, I am a sports journalist that has covered every level of sports, from little league to the pros. As much as I try too, I can no longer view the game as a fan. I struggled with accepting that I am no longer just a fan, not being able to balance the two. It affected my work dramatically.
September 25th, 2016 I shut down Fan-I.com after a series of unpleasant events. The night I shut it down was going to be my last game that I covered for the remainder of the year. It was a MLS matchup between DC United and Orlando City SC. DC United was in the midst of a run to the playoffs and I sat in the press box watching the game with little emotion, despite it being a 4-1 win for United and 20,000 fans in attendance. I walked downstairs to where the press conference was, and for the first time in my career, I didn't have a question to ask. My greatest quality as a journalist was my ability to rapidly spit out a good question, but that night I had nothing.
Earlier that day I covered a high school football game that featured two of the best teams in the state of Maryland, one of which was nationally ranked. St. Johns College Prep dominated Good Counsel 39-22. After the game, I didn't have a question for St. John's young running back, Keilan Robinson, - a sophomore that will be a top recruit in two years – after he scored three touchdowns. It was a struggle that day to say the least.
After I walked out of RFK Stadium, where DC United play their home games, I was struck with an avalanche of emotions. I sat in my vehicle for over thirty minutes with tears flowing, feeling as if I hit rock bottom. I had lost my mojo, creativity, and passion for something that I loved doing for my entire life. My passion for sports was gone and my love for covering sports had deteriorated. As a 26-year old young man, life was becoming overwhelming, being a struggling journalist with a son. Different situations had conquered my love and passion for sports, leaving me in a pool of sorrow.
The next day I made the announcement that Fan-I.com will be shut down. To my surprise, I was flooded with comments and phone calls asking why I was shutting down the site. I knew people cared about Fan-I Sports but up until that moment I didn't know how much. Every day after the announcement, I was approached by someone, asking when I was going to bring back Fan-I.com. Initially, I wasn′t going to bring it back. I was going to close that chapter of my life and focus on being a 9-5 working man, but I couldn't walk away completely.
So I went back to the basics. I began to just enjoy the game instead of trying to analyze it. For the first time in four years, I was watching games for simple enjoyment. I also decided to keep the social media accounts open to help find my creativity. I began to realize why we started this thing called Fan-I Sports. It wasn′t to make a bunch of money or get a lot of views; it was because we loved the game. We wanted to create our own sports culture because the one we grew up in had changed for the worst.
As I sit here 38 days later from that night outside of RFK Stadium, I've gained my second wind to finish this marathon. I′m grateful of that night because it reminded why we started on this journey. I′m excited to see what challenges and barriers we will break in the next five years. As J.Cole once said, ″the beauty is in the struggle″.