The 800 Games Project will be made up of 800 individual games, and each recap must be awesome. To ensure this, here are eight simple guidelines to keep in mind as the season winds on.
1. The minimum length of a game recap is 400 words.
That isn't very long. Anything less, and you're not giving folks very much to read.
By submitting, you agree to a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-ND)
. This is to protect you against the internet, not against us. You can repost your recaps on your own blogs, or you can bind them up as your own books and sell them and keep all the money. Others (including TMM) may not use your work commercially, derive or "remix" works of their own based on yours, or pass your work off as theirs. The first time you find something you wrote ripped off by some blogger without proper attribution, you'll know why this stuff is important.
Once you log in, there will be a big box to type or paste a game recap into. Submitted recaps will be queued,
and their status will be displayed in real time by a Robot. Recaps will be edited, but mostly for style -- please at least give a passing scan to the essentials of AP Style
, use ten
instead of 10,
use proper capitalization, familiarize yourself with the concept of Chicago second references
, and so on. You will be making your editor's life easier, and ensuring that your recap is cleared quickly. And everybody has access to spell-checking technology, it being 2011 for crying out loud. If your recap requires more than eight minutes of editing, it will not be posted to the site. It's nothing personal. I went to a lot of school, and if I don't understand it then a lot of others probably won't either.
I'm about to give you the best writing advice you've ever received. Consider structuring your piece in your head before writing it.
Start at the beginning, and put the end after the middle. Seriously. Bad writers never do this. If you feel that your writing is turning into a meandering, plot-free mess, consider organizing the main basic points on a Post-It Note first. If you run out of space, your piece most likely sucks. Start over.
A lot of us grew up believing that there were "right ways" to do sports journalism: dry Associated Press game recaps, super-inspiring athlete feature stories, cliché-ridden "expert" sportz analysis. Zzzzzzzz.
Screw all of those. Your perspective, from your seat, means everything.
Tell us how you got to the game, what it's like at the gym, introduce us to the person next to you and the people in your section, talk about how the experience felt. Weave in season context, team history, whatever seems appropriate. It's up to you to make that interesting, but play-by-play and ESPN catchphrases are inherently boring. So you have a head start on that crap.
This is college, dammit. Tap into something bigger.
Literary references, history and philosophy citations, and general academic posturing are encouraged and welcomed. It's okay to be smart.
When people tell you that you're "pretentious," what they're really saying is "I didn't pay attention in class." The occasional music and film quotes are okay too -- however, remember the economies of scale inherent in referential humor. Popular selections play to the teeming many, but obscure ones impact a quality few more meaningfully.
You are proud of your school. You gave it (or still owe it) a lot of money, and you live and die with your team. But please don't be a blowhard and use the 800GP to tell everyone about how your school is the best school in the country. It's not. Your team will lose at the end too. Please, no jersey popping, and no smac. Humility is the first pillar.
Some of you are members of the credentialed basketball media; your input is valuable, and we are very interested in the meta-atmospheric material your editors do not have use for. It's even come to our attention that a few of you pixel-stained wretches were inspired by The Mid-Majority to become reporters. But the 800 Games Project is not a shortcut to get front row seats at games. DO NOT attempt to secure credentials by claiming to represent The Mid-Majority.
This is the only guideline that also doubles as a commandment. TMM is not a media organization, and if verified word gets back to us that you've contacted a sports information director or the NCAA falsely claiming to represent this site, your account will be erased and any previous recaps will be deleted. There is no strike two.
The 800GP is a community undertaking, and Jen has kindly donated her services on Twitter (@800GP
) as the Project's official custodian
. If you need more than 140 characters, the newly streamlined message board is available. If you have a question that needs to be answered by me (Kyle), The Form™
remains open for business. It might take a while for me to respond, though.
Clarifications and Tie-Breakers
This section will be added to as we go on.
Who can join?
Everybody: students, alumni, journalists, coaches, players, staff members, student assistants, concession stand workers, band members, student section leaders, all of you. If you have a Bally Club card
, your member number and secret code will act as your login. The physical card costs five dollars (including shipping), but you can get a code for free if you contact us via The Form™
and explain yourself. We're not trying to erect giant barriers to entry, but there are enough jerks out there that we need to have them.
How do I log in?
There is a login box on the right sidebar. You'll have your own 800GP landing page, where you can post game recaps, look at schedules, and add future games to your "I Will" List.
What games are eligible for coverage?
If there is at least one team from below the Red Line
on the floor, it is eligible. Exhibition games are not in our database, and therefore not eligible. But games between two mid-majors, between one mid-major and a team in the upper eight, or between one mid-major and a non-Division I opponent, are. There are 4,193 scheduled games that fit one of these three criteria
[link goes to a Google Doc].
What about games involving transitional Division I teams (that aren't eligible for the postseason yet)? Do they count?
If a school is in the process of transitioning to Division I and is playing a full Division I schedule, yes.
The University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks are in their first year of the transition process, and are only playing 16 scheduled games against Division I opponents.
All Nebraska-Omaha games count too.
I noticed that certain games aren't listed, like conference tournaments and later rounds of preseason events. Do those count?
Our Robots add games to the database once the matchups are set, and they'll show up as available just as soon as the two competing teams are known. The exception is BracketBusters, where the venues and dates are set although the visiting teams are not.
How will I know if people like what I wrote?
For the first time in seven years, comments will be turned on. If the smac gets out of hand (like before), they'll be turned off again unless volunteers want to act as shoot-to-kill moderators.
Do I have to use my real name?
If message boards and Twitter have taught us anything about 21st Century social constructs, it's this: alias = asshole
. Hiding behind a handle and an avatar represents a license to attack and undermine others without any personal responsibility, and folks tend to take full advantage. In the 800GP, you own your words, as well as the resulting Google results. Think before you write. (That means you, @SnarkyDunXXX69.)
If there are two people recapping a game, does that count as two games or one?
If a tree falls in the forest and more than one person hears it, it's still a single tree. So: one game. But it's okay if there is more than one recap for a game. If you add a game to your "I Will" list, you can view the names of other Project participants who are planning to go. 800GP meetup!
Can I watch games on television or online and recap them?
Kinda defeats the purpose of the whole going-to-games thing.
Are there prizes?
We will be keeping track of everybody's game-to-game mileage. While it's unlikely that anyone will put in 20,000 miles, keeping a leaderboard will be a fun motivation for people to venture out of their home areas and discover faraway gyms. The person with the most mileage at the end will receive a secret prize (retail value $50), and he or she will be granted the opportunity to write the Season 8 Epilogue. The writer with the most recaps will be invited to write the Prologue to Season 9.
How is my mileage calculated?
From gym to gym, as the crow flies, much like the "game maps" on Basketball State. (Random example: Southern Illinois
and its 15,000+ mile journey in 2011-12.) So if all the games you recap are at the same venue, your mileage is zero.
I saw a game and then I wrote a recap of it, but I couldn't add it to my list. What gives?
Recapping for the 800GP is a complete end-to-end process: you select the game by adding it to your list (I will
), you plan for the game, you go to the game and experience it. All the while, you're thinking in the back of your mind about what you're going to write, structuring and mental-drafting. Then you get to a keyboard and write. Everybody else in the Project is going through this same cycle, from premeditation to completion, over and over. This is one of the subtle quality control methods that the Robot employs, and so he automatically shuts off the "plus" signs once each gameday is over. (There is a loophole in this, of course, and it has to do with midnight Central Standard Time.) If you've written 10,000 words on a game and can't get it through the system, there's always your own blog, or the message board, etc.; live, love and learn. Trust us, the next one you write will be better.
I know how you can make this whole thing better. Let me tell you it.
Hold on for a second. Instead of telling Dr. Robotmaker what to do, wouldn't it be a better approach to ask others in the TMM community, perhaps on Twitter or the message board
, what they think? The obvious features (sorting recaps based on search criteria, mostly) will be added in time, but suggestions should come from a consensus. The automagic infrastructure that we are building here is part of a long-term proposition. Think about it.
This is what the site is now, and what it will be. Season 9 isn't that far away. As I slowly hand this site over to you, the community, the group and not individuals should decide where it's going, what works and what doesn't. I'm listening.
The 800 Games Project sucks. Too much impersonal, standard journalism.
I'm like you, to a certain extent. If I wanted to read about the hott deets of last night's games, I'd read AP recaps all day. If I wanted to learn What's Going To Happen Next, I'd read the many Blogger and Wordpress sites out there with long clever titles written by folks who think cookie-cutter armchair analysis is the ticket to the ESPN Dream Job lifestyle. And believe me, I don't. But bothering me about this on the buddy-buddy back-channel -- I'm on a f*cking sabbatical here -- or snarking about it in the comments or social media doesn't solve anything. It's up to the community to gently coax more inspired performances out of those who, for whatever reason, haven't taken Guideline 5 (see above) to heart. Make each other better, recappers. Introduce the younger ones to the world of pure imagination
. And remember: If there's a coach quote from a press conference, you're doing it wrong.