Happy Birthday RamFanatic.com

I know it's not considered proper to wish yourself Happy Birthday but how many of us have not, at some point in our lives, given ourselves a birthday present? The same principal is involved. Doing something for yourself that normally is done by others but done out of fear that others won't take the desired action. I promise not to repeat this exercise if other birthdays come around.

Frankly speaking, I never thought this day would occur. Some of you are familiar with how I got a web site in the first place and it was hardly a model for establishing a web site or anything else for that matter. To summarize, the web site was established without my knowledge and it reminds me of the old saying aimed at graduates of Engineering and Technical Schools, "Yesterday, I couldn't spell it and today I are one".

I thought maybe the site would last a couple of months but something happened in the first month of its existence that proved to be both a blessing and a curse. The site received approximately 1000 visits in the first month of operation. It was a blessing in that I never dreamed the site would receive that kind of attention, but it was a curse in that it established a standard that has been hard to maintain. Had the first month's traffic continued, obviously, the first year would have seen the site receive 12,000 visits. It looks like we may barely meet that target for the year but it has not been easy and two months ago I wouldn't have given you a wooden nickel for our chances of making 12,000. Dramatic activity in the last three weeks has enabled us to have a chance to achieve the original goal.

I have analyzed and reanalyzed everything about the site's operation that I can think of but I haven't found the magic formula yet. I continue to be disappointed over the fact that I couldn't maintain the first month's activity throughout the entire year. Another way of looking at it is to say that I had a shot at developing a sizeable number of viewers from the initial group and I was unable to do so. I won't bother to share with you the obvious implications of that fact.

I've tried to present articles about UNC athletics that are historical and human interest oriented. No effort has been made to include recruiting and detailed analyses of the games themselves. There are plenty of other sites that do that very well.

There is no question that posting on The Tar Pit and UNC basketball when new articles go up has been of tremendous value to the success of the site. My sincere thanks to the operators of these boards for allowing me to do that. Since I have never been able to develop a rigid schedule for posting of my articles and the fact that I am in one city (Richmond) while the web master is in another (Raleigh), posting on these other sites has been essential in notifying a large number of viewers that something new is up. Ordinarily, I get a bump of approximately 100 visits when I make one of these postings. There are, of course, exceptions. The article on "Alcohol At UNC Athletic Contests" produced over 600 visits and the article entitled "The Long Wait Was/Is Over" generated over 700 visits. I still can't figure out, to my satisfaction, why these two articles appear to have held more interest than some of the other topics but part of the development process is getting to know what viewers like and what they will respond to.

The summer period, when collegiate sports activity is at its lowest, presented a special problem. I seriously considered shutting the site down at that time but several people whom I respect asked me to continue and suggested that I could write on other subjects. That is when I reduced the number of articles per week to one and began writing about some of the travels my friend and I take each Wednesday in the State of Virginia. I don't post on The Tar Pit and UNC Basketball when articles go up that are not associated with UNC athletics.

I've been disappointed in the overall level of interaction with viewers but the quality of the communications has made up for this. Relationships have been developed by e-mail that rival some of my face-to-face ones and I look forward to hearing from several regulars. I have made several mistakes in my articles and some of these viewers don't hesitate to let me know it. Keep it up. It keeps me on my toes. I've even developed a couple of personal friendships that are above and beyond the scope of the site.

Let's review some of the more memorable moments for me in the first year.

1. Tracking down and talking with Bill Currie, the Mouth of the South.

2. Talking with Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice, my boyhood hero.

3. Having breakfast with Paul Severin, UNC's first two time all-American football player.

4. Challenging Dick Vitale to a free throw shooting contest at halftime of last year's UNC-Duke basketball game. I still think I can beat him.

5. Having Woody Durham contact us and, at my request, summarizing his career for us

6. Having Larry Keith of Sports Illustrated provide us with an article that summarized his illustrious career.

7. Having Mike Voight contact us and wishing us well with the site.

8. Having Carolina Blue link two articles from the site. The one on alcohol and the other on an academic comparison of the schools in the ACC and the SEC.

9. The introduction of ACC man with his analyses of the ACC basketball scene.

10. Meeting a nice couple before the Fla. State game while eating BBQ and telling them about the site only to learn that they were already familiar with it.

11. Learning of someone from Cincinnati who, when told of the site by a friend of mine, saying they were already familiar with it. I have rechecked this story to be sure I understood it correctly because it is unbelievable, for me at least.

12. Writing the article on the UNC-Texas game of 1948 from material researched by a viewer in Texas.

13. Discovering the 10 year old boy on Long Island who has his own Tar Heel web site.

There are other events and activities that I will remember as being special but this is not supposed to be a testimonial to RamFanatic, just a birthday celebration.

I haven't become involved in any real controversies but it came close when the Duke supporter accused me of spreading disinformation on the demise of Tar Heel Talk. My article on Pre-game Music generated quite a bit of opposition to my suggestion that we try to find a middle ground for the pre-game music and I will write on that later. I can tolerate disagreement but its difficult to engage in civil discourse when your character is attacked at the outset.

So there you have it. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to us reaching our 12,000 visit goal. I plan to continue the site for a while longer but I must be realistic and recognize that my stories from the past will, at some point, run out. For better or worse, that hasn't happened yet.

RamFanatic