Photos by The Sports Capitol staff

Closing time: A goodbye and big thank you

BY BRIAN MCNALLY | OCT. 29, 2018

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns.

When we started The Sports Capitol eight months ago the hope was that we could provide coverage of the Capitals, Nationals, Wizards and Redskins in an ad-free, subscription forum that would deliver quality content to our readers and compensate us fairly for our work.

The support from local sports fans has been tremendous and sincerely we hope we’ve lived up to that promise. This site was a labor of love for us and intended to be another option for local sports fans. But recently job offers have come our way from NBC Sports Washington as a result of our work here, and we can’t in good conscience pass them up. The three of us will be joining NBCSW. The Sports Capitol will shut down effective today. All you members: keep an eye out for refunds coming your way.

We are really excited about this new venture. Ben will cover the Wizards, Todd will cover the Nationals, Brian will cover the Capitals and we will all pitch in on the Redskins and other D.C. sports teams as needed. We will primarily provide written content for NBCSportsWashington.com and its impressive new MyTeams app, which launched last week.

You will sometimes see us on NBCSW’s other platforms, too. Our work, or the style of it, isn’t going away. It’s just shifting to a new home and we hope you’ll join us there and continue to read, watch and listen.

There is, of course, some sadness at leaving a project that was so dear to us. We believe in this model of journalism. We still think it is necessary to ensure there are enough outlets to create thriving competition in the market. That makes all of us better writers and reporters and gives our audience more choices. For us, a golden opportunity we could not have foreseen happened to come our way.  

We want to thank the people who supported us from the start – the pioneer subscribers who signed up with us those nerve-wracking first few days last February and showed faith that we could deliver on our promises and those who followed in the weeks and months after. We were blown away by the support and humbled by it.

The site was Todd’s baby. He literally built it from scratch and no one will ever know the hours and hours it took to make the user experience work. The clean, elegant look was all him. But none of it matters if we don’t have pictures to go with the site.

We relied on a group of guys we’ll call friends long after this project is over. Joe Glorioso, Brian Murphy and Reggie Hildred gave their time and talent to us and we can’t thank them enough. They are wonderful photographers. They helped us tell stories, from the Capitals’ run to the Stanley Cup to the Nationals’ shocking season to the roller-coaster Wizards to the Redskins’ training camp in Richmond and fast start in 2018. They didn’t have to do that, but they wanted to be a part of our little site and contribute. We’re thankful they did.

There is so much young talent coming up in this journalism business and we got to see it firsthand. Sammi Silber, Ben Portnoy and Daniel Oyefusi were our interns, but they became much more than that. They helped us crank out content, filled in the gaps in coverage when things got crazy – or Brian had a long-planned, ill-timed trip to Scotland for a friend’s wedding — and saved us from countless errors of our own making. Ben Jr. even got to cover a parade!  

We tried to expose them to as much as possible and they all handled it beautifully. This isn’t an easy industry, but Sammi, Ben and Daniel showed they have what it takes to make it if this is what they want to do. No matter what, we can’t wait to see where they go in the future.

Special thanks to contributors like Tom Friend, whose Kirk Cousins story in March helped us kick off our coverage and made plenty of waves, and Chick Hernandez, who brought needed perspective to the tragic situation in College Park after the death of football player Jordan McNair. Also much thanks to Tim Murray, an all-around true talent and good dude who helped with our podcasts and lent an air of professionalism to the whole operation.  

We were able to make this site work in large part because the public relations folks with the Capitals, Nationals, Wizards and Redskins didn’t bat an eye when we told them about our project and asked for credentials. They treated us as they always have when we were at other outlets and that gave the site instant credibility.

To Tony Wyllie (Redskins), Scott Hall (Wizards), Kyle Brostowitz (Nationals), Sergey Kocharov (Capitals), Ketsia Colimon (Mystics) and, of course, their hard-working staffs, we appreciate you. Same goes for the Sports Information Directors and crew at the local colleges always willing to help.

Access is one thing. Credibility another. Our many combined years on the local beats helped provide that, but so did our subjects by providing some of their limited time to chat. One interview that stands out is former Georgetown coach John Thompson III, who sat down for his first full-length interview in nearly a year just as The Sports Capitol launched.

To every single reporter or friend who joined us on the podcasts, just know we appreciate it. Hopefully, our listeners got a sense of the debates that go back and forth behind the scenes in these media rooms where we spend weeks and months debating the teams we cover. It’s a joy to talk sports that way.

Many thanks to our partners. To the good folks at WJLA (Keith Abernathy, Erin Hawksworth, Scott Abraham, Robert Burton) who put us on air and gave us another platform to talk ball. They are gems, every one of them.

To WTOP (Julie Ziegler and Noah Frank), which helped spread our podcasts and content to a wider audience; to ESPN Richmond (Mitchell Bradley, Greg Burton, Matt Josephs), which gave us a platform every Thursday — and our own radio show during training camp! That was a thrill. Hope Ben and Brian didn’t ruin your ratings for those two weeks in August from 3- 4 p.m.  

Thanks to our sponsors at Endless Waters (Tony Zaslav), Parkway Deli (Danny Gurewitz), and at Fanchest.

The support we received from industry members far and wide was astounding. They gave advice, they supported, they subscribed. Hell – The Associated Press’ Howard Fendrich NAMED the site. True story.   

There are way too many to name so don’t take this as a definitive list: But many thanks to Chris Russell, Scott Linn, Scott Jackson, Howard Fendrich, Danny Rouhier, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Ben Raby, David Aldridge, Tarik El-Bashir, Rick Snider, John Keim, Michael Phillips, Mark Zuckerman, Chelsea Janes, Jamal Collier, Stephen Whyno, Zac Boyer, Bobby Bancroft, Andrew Geiger, Bob Matthews, Tom Schad, Abigail Tufts, Elliott Smith, Harvey Valentine, Nora Princiotti, Deron Snyder, Mike Harris, Pam Chvotkin, Sky Kerstein, Jake Russell, Eric Hobeck, Jenifer Rodriguez, among many, many others.

We’re looking forward to joining our new colleagues at NBCSW – J.P. Finlay, Mitch Tischler, J.J. Regan, Chase Hughes, Chris Miller, Rob Carlin and the rest of you. It’s a good fit for us and we’re looking forward to being part of the team. Thanks to Damon Phillips, Brian Potter and Nina Mandell for the opportunity.

But most of all thanks to the audience who bought into our vision and began this journey with us in February. We can’t thank you enough for reading, listening and engaging, or patting us on the back when we did well and giving us a smack to the head when we faltered. We did our best and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Ben, Brian and Todd

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