Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
When CoBL launched in June 2012, the site was a group of collegiate and high school journalists doing their best to cover the area’s high school and college scene. We were learning on the fly, developing connections and relationships, getting to know the area’s coaches and players — not to mention learning about what types of content our readers wanted, and how we could best serve the local community.
That was Version 1.0.
Holding exposure camps (like the one above, 2016) was part of CoBL's first major upgrade. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Our first significant upgrade came in 2015, when we moved from a Wordpress blog onto our current Sports Engine platform. That gave us the ability to host standings and schedules on the site, archive past seasons, create writer pages, and better organize our content. It also helped us greatly as we were starting to run events, including our incredibly successful series of CoBL College Exposure Camps.
That was Version 2.0.
But as much effort as we all put into CoBL over those first six years, we were never quite able to get to where we needed financially in order to be a sustainable business, and after six straight years of working nonstop, in Oct. 2018 I finally hit a wall and shut the site down. It was an incredibly difficult decision, but I’m glad it happened, because I’ve learned so much over the last few years, and was able to figure out everything we did wrong, and everything we did right.
Now, we’re ready for CoBL Version 3.0, and it’s going to be by far the best one yet. And hopefully this is the version that sticks around.
CoBL now operates as City of Basketball Love, a nonprofit corporation incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on April 26, 2021. CoBL has filed its IRS Form 1023 to seek tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization, which it expects to receive in late 2021 or early 2022.
What does this mean? Several things. First, being a nonprofit corporation means our mission and our values can truly align, as CoBL was always an organization built to serve a public benefit rather than generate any sort of revenue for potential investors. It means we’ll be more connected with the community we serve, as well as will rely on support from that community to stick around.
We pledge to be fully transparent with our finances and our expenditures, from how much money I make off the site to how much we’re spending on editors, writers, marketing, and more.
It means that those of you who support the site, or anybody who wishes to in the future, will be able to claim your donations as tax deductible when CoBL receives its tax-exempt status from the IRS.
CoBL has always covered multiple levels of basketball in the Greater Philadelphia area, not just the top high school and college teams. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
It also means we now have a Board of Directors: I will serve as the Board’s Executive President, while longtime Philadelphia Daily News scribe Dick Jerardi is our Secretary and our longtime bookkeeper Rachelle Verlin will be our Treasurer; our Directors-At-Large are Andy Edwards, Linda Genther, Karen Healey-Lange, Charles Monroe, Jason Ritter, and Eric Worley.
Our board, whose full biographies can be found here, represent every cross-section of high school and college basketball in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, including South Jersey and Delaware. CoBL will also form an advisory board consisting of regional men’s and women’s high school and college coaches for the purpose of providing feedback to the organization about its coverage and mission.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our days as a boys’ and men’s-only coverage site is over. We’re so happy to announce that former Philadelphia Inquirer writer and current Rowan University journalism professor Kate Harman is joining CoBL as our women’s hoops editor, overseeing coverage that will begin on-site July 1. The goal is to have coverage on the girls’ and women’s side that matches that of the boys and men’s coverage
While we’re smarter, more experienced, more well-rounded and more prepared to cover this area’s hoops scene than ever before, plenty about what made CoBL great in its first iteration will remain.
That includes our events: the CoBL Underclassman Exposure Camps, College Exposure Camps and CoBL Shootout will be returning, as soon as it’s safe to hold them. We were planning on running camps in 2020 before COVID hit, and we’re hoping to hold a couple this fall to benefit the Class of 2022 and 2023.
We’ll still be covering all the spring and summer leagues, the AAU events, the shootouts, and all the offseason happenings that make this region such a fun place to cover grassroots basketball. We’ll get back to our Division III Power Rankings and our postseason awards, the game stories and player features that shine lights on all the different personalities and teams that deserve the attention their forerunners got, even in a changing media landscape.
And we’re going to continue our mission to help educate and train the next generation of sportswriters in and around Philadelphia. We’re already in talks with several area universities about forming partnerships to have their students learn from our staff while getting paid internships and on-the-job learning.
If you’re interested in writing for CoBL, we’re always interested in hearing from you; as our budget continues to grow, we’ll be able to add more staff and send them out more frequently. Please send resumes and writing samples, if you have them, to email@example.com, and tell us a little bit about yourself!
CoBL continued to provide coverage of local teams throughout the pandemic-shortened season. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
We’re so excited to be back — but to stick around, we’re going to need the help of the Philadelphia basketball community. For-profit journalism is quickly going the way of the dinosaur, and it takes community support to keep sites like ours around and thriving.
That means we’re going to need to ask you, our readership, for money, and we’re going to need to do it somewhat regularly. If we can raise enough, we’ll be around for a long while; if we can’t, we’ll at least know we gave it our best shot. There’s not going to be a CoBL Version 4.0.
There are multiple options if you’d like to support CoBL:
You can support us on our Patreon account, where you can subscribe monthly or yearly for as little as $3/month, with a discount for signing up for a whole year at once. Joining us on Patreon also unlocks a little bonus content, and we’ll be posting more regularly on Patreon now that we’re back.
You can donate to us directly via PayPal, or by sending a check to:
City of Basketball Love
614 Fairview Road
Narberth, Pa. 19072
CoBL has filed its IRS Form 1023 to obtain 501(c)(3), charitable status. We welcome contributions now — and will be able to provide a charitable contribution acknowledgement once we get our IRS recognition, expected in late 2021 or early 2022.
If fundraising goes well, we’ll be able to expand our coverage into South Jersey and Delaware, covering the entire Delaware Valley region with more stories, features, news, analysis and more than any other news organization around. But we need your help.
I invite you to take a look at our fundraising plan, read about our board of directors, and explore the updated site. Get CoBL back in your bookmarks, and don’t forget to make us a regular stop as you navigate the web.
We can’t wait to see you back in the gym.
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