The first basketball game I attended on media credentials at UNC was the season opener against Oakland in November of 2013. After the game ended and I had finished writing I walked out with Harold Gutmann who was then the UNC beat writer for the Durham Herald Sun. As we were leaving we walked across the court so we could exit through the doors on the other side of the arena. In that moment I realized that there I was walking across the Smith Center court. On one hand, so what it's just a court but for a lifelong UNC fan it was a bit surreal. One random day in 2006 I started this blog and seven years later I am covering Tar Heel basketball games.
I really don't know what I expected the day I started this venture. The only thing I knew for sure was I had opinions I wanted to share, fancied myself a decent enough writer and had the internet as a vehicle to give me a voice. Before blogging I had been a frequent commenter on the 850 the Buzz blog run by Joe Ovies and I also dabbled a bit on Inside Carolina's message board. It dawned on me that I could easily have my own site and Tar Heel Fan Blog was born from that. Six years later it became Tar Heel Blog and six months later joined SB Nation merging with Carolina March.
Over time it evolved from a platform for my opinion to previewing and recapping games, posting news items and commenting on them. The site grew in notoriety but did so for the right reasons. It was a fan site to be sure and which included some level of bias but it was also level headed. It was my hope to create a site where fan passion would be balanced by intellectual honesty and informed opinion. The goal was to show that being a fan didn't mean someone couldn't write logically and reasonably regardless of the game's outcome. The growth of the site was and is a testimony that I succeeded and the acknowledgement of our work by the traditional media was proof we had legitimacy. The legitimacy took new life with our inclusion at SB Nation which opened doors for media credentials and being recognized as an outlet for news and analysis on Tar Heel athletics.
The ten years I have spent running this blog have been incredibly rewarding and afforded me opportunities I would have never conceived of a decade ago. After that first game, I walked out of the tunnel and across the Smith Center court many more times. I am not sure it became much less surreal as I would glance up at the banners or note the CAROLINA across the baseline. That brief stroll across that hardwood was a frequent reminder to me that the blog was more than just me writing about UNC basketball or football. It was an incredible privilege to be a source of information for UNC fans. The word blessing is thrown around far too easily and carelessly but I really don't have another word to describe it. I got to write about my favorite team, attend UNC home games, go to the ACC, NCAA tournaments and even witnessed the Tar Heels in the ACC title game in football. I am not sure it gets much better than that.
Looking back on the last ten years I like to think we did it the right way. As my tenure running this blog ends I depart with nothing but gratitude for and satisfaction at what Tar Heel Blog has become. I also have great anticipation for where the site is headed under Tanya Bondurant's leadership.
I owe an immense debt first and foremost to my family. I work a full time job outside of this so balancing this site with that and family life required some sacrifices. My family put up with scheduling life between September and April around the UNC football and basketball schedules. They let me pursue something I loved doing even when it was inconvenient and for that I will am grateful.
I also would like to thank Doc, Chris and Paul for their contributions, SB Nation for giving us a bigger megaphone and my family for putting up with a rather time consuming side job. Most importantly I would like to thank you the readers for continuing to show up and read what we wrote.
While I am stepping away from the blog I'll still be bouncing on Twitter at @briancbarbour and who knows I might even pop in here from time to time. Until then, Go Heels. Go America.