Sports, Stories: Talking to Eric Smetana of Stymie, the Sports Literary Magazine

Stymie started just a few years ago as an experiment in literary sportswriting. Today, it's something much bigger and better.
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Stymie Magazine is a kindred spirit to The Classical: a publication focused on exploring sports from different angles, from the edges to the mainstream, through excellent storytelling. Where the two publications diverge is in form. Stymie primarily looks at sports through the lenses of fiction and poetry. We recently talked to Erik Smetana, Stymie’s founding editor, to find out what makes him tick and what makes Stymie special. 

The Classical: Describe the magazine for those of us who are unfamiliar with it.

Smetana: We look for work on sports and games in the form of fiction, nonfiction essays, and poetry. We’ve featured things like stories about origami plains having aerial fights to things that are more straightforward. We even reprinted a Daniel Orozco piece about a potential serial killer who likes to take a run every day.

We’re open to anything and everything that relates to sports and games as long as it ties back to a literary base.

Where did the idea for Stymie come from?

Stymie started back in ’08. At the time I was writing a lot of golf fiction, and there wasn’t a big market for it, so I thought, ‘Oh, let’s start an online journal about golf fiction.’ It was an awful idea. But we ran with that for about two years before coming to the conclusion that it didn’t make sense. There wasn’t really a reader base for that sort of thing. So we broadened the platform in 2010 to include all sports and games. We went through a re-launch in 2010, and that became the Stymie we know and love today. So far, we’ve been pretty happy with the results.

How have readers responded to the journal so far?

It’s been surprising in a lot of ways. It started with a relationship with ESPN. When we re-launched in 2010, we got noticed [by ESPN] through word of mouth and one of [ESPN] The Magazine’s editors reached out and profiled us. We actually co-sponsored a fiction contest. So the only sports fiction that’s ever been published in [ESPN the Magazine] was through a contest Stymie got to be a part of, judging those pieces and collecting those pieces.

From that, our reader base has grown. We’re hitting positive numbers for a bi-annual literary journal—into the thousands of readers. We launched our website in 2010 and we have regular content on there, and our readership there is up in the thousands every month. Going from something that wasn’t read by anyone other than my friends and family, several years back, to people seeking us out for publication is an amazing thing.

Why are fictional sports stories important?

Sports stories are about more than just the sport. I think when you read a good piece of sports literature or sports fiction or sports poetry it’s about locating an emotion that we all have or we all feel. Sometimes it’s about a relationship: a parent and a child or love and loss. Fiction really gets to the core of human emotion and human response. Sports are something we all know and share, and sports fiction gives us a chance to connect in ways that other types of fiction don’t.

Stymie? What is that anyway? How did you come up with that name?

Growing up I had dreams of becoming a sports professional that never panned out. Stymie was a favorite golf term, and as we grew and expanded we didn’t want to lose the readership we already had so we stuck with it. [Ed: Stymie as defined by “A situation in golf in which an opponent's ball obstructs the line of play of one's own ball on the putting green”]

I take it your favorite sport is golf?

Golf and college football.

What are your teams?

The University of Missouri. My Tigers are now part of the SEC! So that’s an interesting kind of change. The Georgia game a couple weeks back was both exciting and a sort of knife in the chest.

I also get a little crazy around March, when the basketball tournament starts. And I’m a die-hard Cardinals fan. I’m St. Louis born and raised.

Do you have a favorite “Glory Days” moment from your youth?

When I think about my big sports moments they’re always about getting injured.

That’s good. We actually have a series at The Classical all about getting injured.

Well, I’ve got stories about everything from getting tossed from a golf cart to being thrown by a giant linebacker and breaking a tailbone.

What’s your favorite sports story, either fictional or non-fictional?

I’d have to say The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. It’s by W. P. Kinsella, the same author who wrote Shoeless Joe, which is what Field of Dreams is based on. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy is another one of those fantastical stories. It’s about a baseball game that takes place between the Cubs and the Iowa baseball team, and the game was basically the greatest baseball game in history but it isn’t in the record books, and so it’s about that conspiracy.

So where do you hope Stymie will go from here?

I tend to think really big and sort of reach for the stars but thankfully [the other editors] are able to talk some sense into me. We’ve talked about a book imprint that would produce one or two books per year. We’ve talked about going to a strictly print format instead of this electronic format we’ve had. We’ve talked about a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to compensate contributors. But right now our latest shift is to focus on daily content on the website. We’ll have new content five days a week—fiction, poetry, interviews, that sort of thing—whereas in the past it’s been more sporadic. For the next 12 months we want to really drive the website readership. We’re always looking for feedback from our readers and we’re always looking for new voices.

You can check out the excellent story “I Run Every Day” by Daniel Orozco—about a potential serial killer who enjoys jogging—and read the rest of Stymie’s free archive on their site.

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Visible and Hidden Psychological motivation for users to publish themselves

In this fast and reckless going era, every day everyone has something new to show and unique to

post on different apps. The ultimate eye capturing videos and audios are created by youngsters

just to add some spice in life or to give that feeling to others that “yes we are different from

you”. In every get together or any celebration seeing young ones being obsessed by their

smartphones is so common these days. Those pouts and selfies are always high at each and every

occasion. Giving these all obsessions and apps a more level, this “Your Voice” app is there these

days where one can upload video of their singing or dancing. If you desire to create your own

music then you definitely need to get aware of this special app named as “Your Voice”.

Your Voice is a free Karaoke app where thousands and millions of songs are offered from the

YouTube database. You may record your voice or your dancing or singing video and with the

help of a single click you are able to send that video to your beloved ones or friends and also to

the professionals of the music industry. Sharing videos is compatible with the Facebook,

WhatsApp, Google+, and SMS and with many other alternatives. It is always a joyful sensation

to make your voice or singing recorded and to hear or see the video over and over again. And

that is so more and more people are using this app.

An enormous number of people are using this app for creating their own songs and music

albums. Every person is getting equal opportunity for showcasing their hidden talent. Not only

this you can also watch and rate the videos of other people at this app. After all, this generation is

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Talking about the motivation for using this app is evident in its fame and benefits. Being famous

exhibits the reason of its visible and hidden psychological motivation for the users of this app to

publish themselves via videos and audios of their songs and dance. Who doesn’t want

appreciation in this global world? The more rating of the video the more appreciation of the

person which ultimately boosts up the confidence and encourages him or her to come up with

something different and unique. Not only this but also the improving of voice quality is one of

the major motivational factor for the users of this app. And undoubtedly being famous and

attaining popularity has always been an utmost motivation for the users of Your Voice.

Nonetheless, in this era almost every other person is fond of singing and dancing. As mentioned

before, no function or occasion is complete without songs and dance in the name of

entertainment. Or it would be better to say that now a day’s people don’t find any occasion

interesting or entertaining until and unless there is no music and dance in it. The very typical

word “boring” is categorized with such events. Hence, the app Your Voice is all about today’s

generations craze. Making them motivated is not a big deal especially when it comes to singing.

Many people have commented on this app that they like it a lot and are one of the best free video

Karaoke app.

Coming to the psychological motivation factors; seeking attention is one of the essential factors

that motivate the users to publish themselves via Your Voice app. Hunting attention has always

been in the nature of almost all human beings. You confess it or not but every person wants to be

attended and for the sake of others attention most youngsters have grabbed hands on different

apps; such as Dubsmash, selfie camera or stick, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. these all

things are for seeking attention of other people. To post videos and pictures on Facebook or any

other social media app is nothing else than hunting attention mission. Those lovely dovely

comments received on pictures makes an individual feel good from inside. Reading those

comments makes the user happy and content but in reality this is just a fake satisfaction that has

to do nothing with the outer personality. These comments or ratings don’t play any role in the

practical life of an individual. Though, they are overwhelming for the time being but fade away

with the passage of time.

Another psychological factor is the increasing competition among the youngsters. Few of the

users don’t talks about it but from inside they are ready to compete and display it off completely

while few of the users take it completely normal. Taking competition as a normal part of your

life is very much okay but taking it on your nerves may actually cause harm to you. Many people

get into swear depression and anxiety. Every other person these days wants to do better than the

other. However, if one takes it as a part of the game in which one loses and the other wins is

totally a normal behavior towards life. And not always the same person is going to win but

depends on the hard work and uniqueness that reflects in the work even if it is a short timed

video of singing or dancing.

Concluding the topic, I would like to say that every app has its own advantages and

disadvantages but if everything is used in a balanced way nothing goes wrong and none gets


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