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Bethlehem Says: The Classical and You


The Classical is $8,140 away from its goal. If you’ve donated, we thank you with all our hearts. If you’ve made a principled stance not to—maybe you would prefer to “support” writers with a different model, or believe freelancers can write two things at the same time—then we appreciate your honesty.

If you’re either waiting, or on the fence, this Tumbl is for you. We want The Classical to happen, and we hope you do, too. We’re not asking you to prop up our hobby, or rejecting those time-honored internet precepts of hard work and tireless sacrifice. We just need a hand getting started. If in a year, The Classical can’t support itself, it dies as dead as if it never existed in the first place.

The Classical isn’t just for us, it’s for all of you—the writers interested in contributing, the readers who feel there’s something missing from sports journalism that has yet to be fulfilled. This money allows us, and you, to build the kind of site we know can work without looking over our shoulder from Day 1. It’s a luxury, sure, and may run counter to all libertarian ideals. But we prefer to see it as trust. Trust in what we’ve done, and will do. Or, if you want, good old-fashioned fear. If we don’t raise this money, The Classical doesn’t happen.

It’s an old NPR refrain, but it’s that simple. The Classical won’t exist without you. And if The Classical doesn’t exist, it tells us that it all we need to know. If that’s the case, we’ll take our answer off the air.

Count me in.

I’ve supported Grantland in principle because I like a lot of its writers. Nothing against them! I also wholly, entirely, 100% support paying writers, seeing as how writing money is a good portion of the money that comes into this household, and I really don’t think ‘good stuff’ happens for free, nor should it, for writers just as much as anyone else. But Grantland is mostly not for me. I don’t like the editorial direction and its atavistic insistence to riff on the status quo instead of challenging it. I know this isn’t a Grantland-versus-The Classical situation, but I can’t help frame it like that. When I visit Grantland, I’m presented with a full page ad for Subway. I see all the worst parts of the culture — sexism, racism, reality TV — reflected back on me. Above all, I see a guiding force that’s both not interested in changing, but entirely ignorant of the need for change. I can’t really blame him, since it’s made him rich and powerful. Which, if you think about it, is the entire point — problem as Ouroboros.

Shoals was a founding member of Free Dark, the official second-best sports blog of all-time. Free Darko was one of those sites that opened up my eyes to the possibilities of sportswriting being real writing. It also showed me that you can apply to your contemporary interests the present total of your smarts, education, and overflown/blown feelings. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve never read a thing on Free Darko that made me question why I was reading it, let alone for moral reasons. I’ve never read anything there that made me feel icky or bad for enjoying sports. I get that on a once or twice weekly basis at Grantland. It’s not for me. I know Shoals isn’t the only Classicist on deck, but his work is continually thoughtful, smart, and above all kind. I support that message.