I’ll be honest — I have no idea how to start this letter.
I have cried my way through several failed starts before finally accepting that the only way I’ll get through writing this is to just talk through it as directly and as honestly as I can, because the guise of professionalism and corporate speak only hides the fact that there are real humans behind every single one of these keyboards.
And on Monday, all of those humans who write for a California-based SB Nation site, or who reside in California, received news that their contracts would end before 2020 thanks to California’s AB5 law.
I have been with SB Nation for three years and under contract for slightly less than that. This is my third NHL season at the helm of Fear the Fin. And approximately one minute after publicly announcing the end of my contract, I received an email verifying that yes, even though I live in Michigan, Fear the Fin will be moving forward without me or any of my staff.
I’m heartbroken. My staff, several of whom joined the ranks before me, are devastated.
Though the financial side of it is awful, the human side is harder to cope with. We built a community of fans here. We’ve made real life, long-term lasting relationships with each other.
The thing about sports that is so wonderful and special is how it brings people together and gives them a shared purpose and passion. We participated in that so fully that I can’t imagine my life without this group of funny and smart Sharks fans.
But I will have to. And so will you.
Changes will start on January 1 and roll out from there. I don’t know what those changes look like. I know that there’s a small buffer between January 1 and March 31 where things won’t necessarily change a whole lot, though some of the faces you’ve known and loved will be gone already. After March 31, Fear the Fin and all of the California team sites will be run by a staff of SB Nation employees.
It’s been a difficult few days and I don’t know that it will ever get any easier, especially as the site transitions away from being a true fan community. For me, I have plans to stay with SB Nation, though I can’t offer much more detail than that. You haven’t seen the last of me here, though my role will be very different than what you’ve come to expect.
There’s an open hiring process right now and some of the current staff may be able to stick around in that capacity. Many are choosing not to, because part of what made SB Nation great were the voices of the Every Fan: people with careers and lives outside of sports, who just happened to love sports and have a lot of opinions. Thanks to AB5, those fans no longer have a home.
I wish I could just look at this through the lens of how lucky any of us were to get to do what we do in the first place. For the last three years, that’s how I’ve always framed my experience at SB Nation — isn’t it cool that I get this platform and I get to share it with so many incredible people? I’m so lucky for this experience.
And to an extent, that’s still true. I certainly wasn’t owed this position. But it feels like I’m cheating myself and my staff of the hard work we do to frame it that way. This isn’t just a silly side project with a massive platform. It’s something we love and something we’re good at. To be dumped aside without warning feels ugly and we’re not deserving of that. Even if AB5 forced Vox’s hand, the way this was handled leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
But what’s done is done. So here’s where I say so long and thanks for all the fish.
First to everyone who ran this site before I did: Jason, Derek, Jake, Marcus. You are part of the reason I love this team. Your guidance in continuing to build this community has been invaluable and I am so lucky to continue to learn from you.
To the ghosts of writers past, thank you for sharing yourselves with a community of fans. Putting your work out there isn’t easy and I hope you feel you’re only the better for doing so.
To my current staff, I’m sorry we won’t be able to do this forever. I am so proud of every single one of you. Thank you for all of your work. We’re better having read it.
And to you, the readers. Gosh, what a journey we’ve been through, eh? I’m sure there are vultures waiting in the wings to celebrate, but the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Whatever my next role is with SB Nation, I will do my best to work for you and keep Fear the Fin the best Sharks community out there.
Thank you for reading for all these years. We’ll miss you.