How a Small Blog Made a Big Difference

The Canton Repository’s Todd Porter has published two new articles on the Xzuberant Faith Basketball scam that happened in northeastern Ohio.  For other stories from the Canton Rep and the work I’ve done on the situation visit my XFBA resource page.

  1. Father of XFBA administrator reaches out to ‘prodigal son’
  2. Prosecutor gives XFBA a final shot at avoiding day in court


Both of these reports are great, and it shows that not only is the Canton Community now Publically on board with bringing justice to the situation.  Most of the things we’ve been speculating about on my blog have been correct since my first post written on January 8th, the day after the XFBA media launch party.  Todd Porter, and the Canton team, have done a great job of verifying this information with other sources, which has been one of the major strengths they’ve exhibited.

I wrote this first post intially for two reasons: first I was really concerned that this whole thing was a scam when I first found out about it two weeks prior while in Ohio for Christmas break. The second concern came because, though the XFBA explained that it was national league, there was only one website on all of the internet explaining what the league was. How could a national league paying its players $1,400 a week not be mentioned in some local paper (it took six more weeks for it to be mentioned in any local paper).  Of course, this one website was the free XFBA website hosted by zoomshare.com.  It laid out all the grandious promises of the league; that site has since been taken down.  The Repository was actually misguided when it stated that XFBA.org made the promises of $1,400 a week to its players, rather it was the original zoomshare site that did that (unfortunately it was taken down long before the Rep got on the job).
Why is the Repository so unwilling to give any credit to the work that my friends and I have done to bring this whole thing to light?  I created that first blog post because I figured, “if there is nothing on the internet about this thing, I will put something out there to see if other people are sharing my concerns.???  Within 2 days I was getting over 100 hits, a great feat for a small theological-focused Quaker blog.  After I recogonized how interested people were in this I started making a couple phone calls and got a few friends to help me investigate this thing.  Some were in ohio and some were out of the state but all have the same suspicion and concern that friends and family were being lied too.

After that point I started generating posts with new facts and rumors we gathered to help bring to light what was going on.  Some of it turned out to be true (the important parts were) and some not, but it raised an awareness that halted the scam in its tracks.  It also gave me an opportunity to write some theological reflections in hopes of undercutting some of the bad theology portraryed by the league.  After my intial post I started contacting news sources in Ohio, both newspapers and televisions stations.  I even sent a couple emails with tips to the Rep three weeks before they wrote anything.

This whole things was an exhausting process for my friends and I, as we collectively spent a 2-3 hours each day researching the league, the history of Mike Heard, Jevon Blake and Gregory Railey, investigating the ins and out of their stories, answering emails from players, even talking on the phone to  one of Canton’s city officials  Kelly Zachary (who is a very kind lady I might add) and news sources.  Everything that went onto my blog from day one was the culmination of a lot of hard work and time spent by a number of people who were aiming at stopping the scam before it caused to many problems, and attracting the eye and ears of the Ohio media.

Unfortunately it got personal when my brother was fired (in front of his teamates) from his position on the team because Heard, Railey and Blake figured out that I was the one posting all the info about the league and “causing trouble.???  Of course they gave him his job back on the condition that I would never post again on my blog about the XFBA; if I did he was out.  This was the last thing I had hoped for and I had tried to be careful to avoid such a catastrophe, but fortunately my brother and I worked it out.

The leaders even commented on my blog a subtle threat for me to take down the site.  Our mom then got on and commented about the situation which was a great blow to the integrity of the league’s leaders. Its always funny when you have your mom say something on your blog.  Its like when you’re hanging out as a young boy with all you friends and she wipes smudge of your face with a moistened towlette.  You’re thankful, but a little sheepish too.  Anyways, caring more about my relationship with my brother than writing about the XFBA scam I stopped posting on the blog for almost two weeks.  The next post I wrote was “When the Buzzer Sounds??? on February 2 where I  posted a ton of new information (with my brother’s permission) about how Heard and Railey had tried this before with a website called “Supernatural Faith.???  This was discovered by my good friend and tech wizard Chase whose done a ton of work exposing this whole situation.  To me this discovery blew the case wide open (note I also tipped the Rep to this info but wasn’t credited for the work).
Well, I’ve personally received many thanks from a whole group of people commenting on the blog who’ve also been working really hard at exposing this situation, as well as from Kelly Zachary in Canton.  I am a Canton native, I’ve lived there for 3/4’s of my life, I graduated from Malone College there, and someday hope to move back to canton and live there for the rest of my life with my kids and family.  I love that place. I stuck my nose in this buisness because I was not just worried about my brother (though I must confess that selfishly he was my major concern) but for the whole of my hometown.  I am very pleased that this is off my shoulders and being handled by the city now, people who are authorized and trained to do this kind of work will do it well.

I guess I was just little disappointed with the fact that all of those people, including myself, worked to bring this to light and haven’t been credited for it.  And my website that became a rallying ground and a place to pull together for those deeply concerned wasn’t mentioned.  This little blog made a big difference, and I guess it goes to show that people can change the course of events if they really want too, because of this I thought it was appropriate to write and tell anyone who wonders, “the rest of the story.???
Sidenote: The issue of Blogs and how they influence larger media is covered often by Glenn Renyold’s Instapundit and his new book “Army of Davids.???

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Wess

…is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a “released minister” at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

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