Why Tabletop Sports Sims and YouTube?

I’m a self-conscious person by nature, to a fault almost always. I have always worried what was thought of me. It probably started when, one day when I am barely old enough to remember, my grandfather tells my Mom & Dad, “This one’s going to make a living with his brain, because he ain’t gonna do it with his hands,” or something of the sort. It was the kind of funny thing an old patriarch says to sound shrewd and wise. And whether it’s shrewd, wise, prescient, or just plain life-defining for a kid who is maybe 3 or 4 and has his whole life ahead, it sticks with me to the point that today, yes, I have fulfilled his prophecy.

So let’s get to the question in the title, because this is something that I worry is a hangup for some (see, that self-image crap strikes again). It’s probably overthinking that has been brought about by the aforementioned “hey there’s the fat kid” or “what a nerd” style insults of the past. But I kind of understand…starting a channel on YouTube reeks of wanting to be famous, thinking you can be the primary source of definitive information on games…the kind of arrogance that just turns people off.

That’s not why I did it.

Two different genres stirred up the thoughts which brought me to Tenacious Sports: the “play it” type video game vloggers, and Disc Golf. Let me explain the latter, as everyone is all-so-familiar with the craze of the former.

In the middle part of the 2010’s, I got into disc golf as a cheaper, less time-consuming surrogate of the ball sport. It has spread a lot in recent years, much of which has come from publicity through fan-started video efforts by Jomez and TheDiscGolfGuy (for two). These guys put a lot of sweat and personal outlay into getting their videography started, and through YouTube built a standard for coverage of the pro game to the point where CBS Sports Network and ESPN came calling to broadcast tourneys in the last 3 years.

But back in 2016, when I started TenaciousStrat, disc golf still wasn’t that big. And all I saw was that it was helping a fringe sport that didn’t get much airtime anywhere get exposure, bring about people from all over to interact, watch, learn, and possibly try disc golf.

So that’s where my channel came in. I hadn’t played a ton Strat-o-matic at that point, but I did have a project started, and I had watched both Earle at Tabletop Baseball Plus as well as David at Baseball Demos quite a bit. There didn’t seem to be many others trying to give sports sims via cards & dice love on YouTube. So I figured out how to record with my phone, then eventually live-stream with it, and that’s it. And maybe guys who were new would be willing to watch someone like me fumble around a bit until I got it. It’s worked out OK.

The reasons I started doing this were really twofold: 1) I wanted to create content that would provide more chances that prospective tabletop gamers would be introduced to the pastime, and 2) I wanted to document what I was doing for myself and perhaps my kids so that one day in the future they’d be able to reflect on something that brought me joy, and maybe even decide it was something they would like.

It hasn’t always been pretty. These types of endeavors are not done in a vacuum, and carving out a quiet hour or two with young kids was challenging. My reaction to their behavior often fell short of my desired level of care when they needed attention. I also had a period of time where the game lost its joy, as my passion for the memory of a fun season (2008 Phillies) morphed into the lunacy of worrying that I couldn’t replicate their division title, let alone winning a Series. Those two situations likely cost me viewers in the long run, and regretfully don’t hold up to my reasons as state (though in some regards, the 2008 Phillies Replay could offer my kids a glimpse at the heartfelt passion that derives from rooting for a team, win or lose, through good and bad).

But honestly, I think reason 1) has gotten lost in the shuffle for me. For the early years I seemed to have quite a number of people remarking how they bought their first game or tried this other game because of seeing a video I created, and that gave me so much joy. I also enjoy projects, and completing the next game in a project is easier than trying to find new ways or places to promote the hobby.

So I hope I’ve convinced you this isn’t some effort to bring attention to myself. Lord knows I’m not the person who anyone should model their lives after. I just hope the hobby continues to grow, in times when there the advances in electronic simulation accelerate and provide even more immersive and realistic graphics. This hobby offers a chance to take a step back, slow it down, and learn a great deal about athletic performance when boiled into a statistical model. These are the endeavors of the shrewd and wise, ones where both the brains and the hands are useful for a lifetime of enjoyment.