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VHL 20 in 20 #17: The Issues

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The Issues

Just a little over a year ago, Raymond Funk started up the VHL Magazine. Despite numerous failed attempts to start up a similar product in the past, Funk was not deterred from his goal of creating a consistent, long-lasting source of media for the VHL members. Since March 2010, the VHL Magazine has been able to remain afloat, constantly providing us with the latest VHL and VHLM news, some opinion articles, and even a few more interesting topics. While the magazine has not been immune to critics since its inception, it has been generally well received by all. While I certainly don’t think this is the case, just to ensure that the magazine isn’t taken for granted by the VHL population, I decided to dedicate one of my episodes to Mr. Funk and his creation. Learn more about the magazine by reading the following story about its creation, maintenance, and endurance even in the face of criticism.

Back in early 2010, Raymond Funk began pondering the idea of a VHL magazine. Hoping for an alternative form of league media that would be interesting and appealing to the VHL faithful, Funk thought a magazine would be an excellent idea. Raymond Funk had a background in marketing from his schooling, and he wanted to incorporate that background into something that would be mutually productive, both for himself and for the VHL as a whole.

”Honestly, I just thought something different in media would be useful. I was getting bored and had some free time and had assets that would be useful towards the making of the actual magazine. Even though I don’t write a single magazine article anymore, I do put in a lot of effort towards the magazine’s creation and maintenance.” – Raymond Funk

”The mag was pretty much Ray’s idea, though I imagine we probably bounced some ideas off of each other at a hockey game or two in town here. Still, this one is pretty much his child. Ray has an educational history in marketing, and wanted to use some of that knowledge base to keep fresh on things in the league. Alas, the Mag was born. My plan at the beginning was to run a concurrent radio show in association with the mag. It would have been a radio station approach with scheduled shows and what not. Unfortunately, I don't have the software for that kind of system anymore, and the demand just doesn’t seem to be there for that type of show.” – Dustin Funk

Over the past history of the Victory Hockey League, there have been several past incarnations of the VHL magazine. High-profile members such as Lenny, and even Kevin Brooks himself led some of these magazine campaigns. Sometimes, these magazine attempts wouldn’t even make it past the planning stage, and would end up being forgotten for a little while until someone else wanted to try and bring it up. Sometimes, the magazine would produce a couple editions to the public before eventually fading away. However, the history of past magazine failure did not deter Raymond Funk from trying to make a magazine of his own, and believing that his magazine could be the one that sticks.

”Time, commitment, and loyalty were what really led me to believe that this magazine could last. Add in a strong staff from the beginning, and the belief got stronger. Also, it helps when you have access to quality computer software programs that make the process flow easier.” – Raymond Funk

Magazine store!

On the date of March 18th, 2010, the first edition of Raymond Funk’s incarnation of the VHL magazine hit the VHL world. The Victory Hockey League had just completed its 14th season. To put things into perspective, players like J.D. Stormwall, Voittu Jannula, and Mikka Virkkunen were all rookies, the league had yet to hear from Jardy Bunclewirth, Joey Clarence, or Tarik Saeijs, and players who were still around back then included Carl Jacobs, Ginzou Fujiwara, and Zak Rawlyk. Articles were written about Kevin Brooks, the VHL referees, the plusses and minuses of the current (at the time) league situation, and the VHLM. There were draft rankings for the Season 15 VHL Entry Draft, and various other articles were included in this 16-page affair. The VHL members really liked the magazine, and definitely liked how professional it looked. It was definitely a promising start for the current incarnation of the official magazine, but people were obviously going to suspend their true joy until this magazine proved to be different from the previous, failed attempts to keep a magazine going in the Victory Hockey League. At the time of its inception, nobody, not even Funk himself, was too sure how long it would last. As Funk admits, he didn’t think about the potential lifespan of his project, and that may have been the key to his success thus far.

”I never thought about how long the issues would last. I never considered the possibility of this project’s failure, and maybe that optimism helped in the magazine’s current success.” – Raymond Funk

Indeed, the magazine continued to grow with time, and as more editions continued to come out, the VHL faithful became increasingly confident in its consistency and its endurance. This was the VHL magazine that would stick it out and would be able to last for a good amount of time. Indeed, it’s been a year now, and the magazine still comes out once a week to tell the VHL population what’s what. Sometimes it’s a bit late, sometimes the number of articles isn’t as much as it used to be, and sometimes you can’t help but skim through and try and look for articles of interest to you while ignoring everything else, but whatever the case, the magazine is still up there and available for your viewing. Having just celebrated its 50th issue, there is hopefully no more doubts concerning the magazine’s ability to be a lasting aspect of the league. As long as Raymond Funk has the will to produce the magazine each and every week, then the magazine will come out each and every week for our reading pleasure.

However, much like just about everything else in the Victory Hockey League, the VHL magazine was not immune from receiving criticism. Raymond Funk learned that the hard way when he hired Robbie Zimmers, the league’s loudmouth and a general shit-disturber. Robbie’s article, “In Your Face”, was placed at the end of the VHL magazine and was an article that allowed Robbie to spew whatever it was that was on his mind at the time and turn it into 7 practice hours for his client.

”Me and Ray talked about Zimmers when he first became a member of the magazine creation team. We both felt that he is a guy that will say whatever he feels, and that could be used to attract attention to the magazine. He had the potential to give the magazine a bit of life and a differing feel. It was kind of like some of those really bad editorials you get in national newspapers. You don't always agree, but you will be talking about it for a long while afterwards. Personally, I don't pay much attention to him or his work. I find that he has some good ideas, and can be good with expressing them, but other times he falls off that wagon. We knew what we where getting into when he was given a column, and in all honesty, things have pretty much went as expected with him.” – Dustin Funk

Dating back to his playing days, Zimmers has always been a pest

”I applied for a spot, and Raymond Funk loved the idea of having a loudmouth person like me on the magazine staff. I’m someone who is not afraid to tell it like it is. So, yeah, I got the job just because I’m me. Pretty sweet, eh?” – Robbie Zimmers

Robbie’s articles were brash, loud, and sometimes offensive. However, what really annoyed the members of the VHL was the general brevity of his articles. For the most part, “In Your Face” articles contained about 400-500 words, which is barely an adequate amount for your typical Victory Hockey League media spot. Not only were his articles low on length, but the grammar and general writing syntax of each article was at an elementary or middle school level, and was almost unreadable in some editions of the magazine. To top it all off, for all this, Robbie still earned more practice hours in a week than the average VHL member.

Because of this, there was a period of time when Robbie Zimmers’ articles would come under fire week after week. Especially critical were the league’s veteran members, who knew better than to accept a short, poorly written, intentionally offensive piece of writing as worthy of more than the traditional weekly practice hour allocation. Raymond Funk would learn that just because a lot of hard work is put into something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unable to be criticized by others. To be honest, Funk only had himself to blame for hiring Zimmers, knowing full well that it was likely only a matter of time before something like this happened. While he originally had a far more negative response to the magazine’s critics, he has no mellowed out and has harbored a different view on the Robbie hate.

”Well, any publicity is good publicity and who better than Zimmers to generate buzz for the magazine? Still, some of his earlier work may have slipped through my radar and really landed both him, myself, and even the integrity of the magazine in hot water. Even then, I stand behind his work and integrity, and I do hold the same integrity and quality of work standards for all my journalists who are participating in the magazine.” – Raymond Funk

Once again, Robbie Zimmers found himself on the hot seat, a spot where he has been on several occasions in the past. Simply looking back through other episodes of this series will find you some of these instances, but these instances make up only a portion of the controversy that really seems to follow Robbie Zimmers around. His generally abrasive personality means that you will either like him or hate him, and most people go for the latter. However, in typical Robbie Zimmers fashion, you’ll find that the man simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to care about what other people truly think of him.

”I laugh at the people who complain about me. They only hate me because they can’t get a job on the magazine. Because of this, they pick on the article that is the most annoying or the most controversial, which happens to be my article. Plus, I am Robbie Zimmers, and being Robbie Zimmers also comes with a lot of haters. Sadly, in the recent weeks, no one has been complaining about me, and I actually kind of miss it.” – Robbie Zimmers

Here come the Zimmers haters

As mentioned above, Robbie Zimmers is perhaps most notorious for his seemingly insatiable need to use poor writing skills in every piece of media he has ever done in the Victory Hockey League. Some of the spelling and grammar errors he makes would cause him to fail an 8th grade English test, and he commits the deadly error of “writing as if you are talking”, where what you say makes sense when spoken, but not so much when written. Just for fun, I asked Robbie if he would ever try and correct these issues with his writing, and the response I received was, more or less, expected.

” Well, ‘fuck no’ is the short answer. The longer answer is this: once I start to care about checking grammar and whatnot for an online hockey league, maybe just maybe then my grammar in my articles will become better. Until that day comes, you will be left saying: ‘what the fuck? I didn't understand that last sentence!’, but I don’t see that day coming anytime soon.” – Robbie Zimmers

On a much more positive note, one shining star in the VHL magazine is Dustin Funk and his Alternative VHL News article. Every week, Dustin Funk never fails to inform, to excite, and to intrigue the VHL population. The alternative news article generally brings up something, usually a new idea or a little-known concept, and informs us about its potential plausibility and how it could improve the Victory Hockey League as a whole. I consider myself to be a pretty creative person, but I don’t think I could ever come up with something new every week quite like the other Funk brother does. Yet almost without fail, Dustin Funk’s weekly article brings up something new every edition I read.

”Thanks for the support for the Alternative News section of the magazine. Most of my ideas are lifted from league chatter, other sports leagues, or simple common sense. Basically, what I do is that I look at the league and think: ‘what would make things different, or better? Whatever it is that I come up with, I write about it. I know that not everything I write will work, or will be better long-term for the league, but I still want to voice it because you never know. Maybe that concept will lead to something else that will work. The nice part is that some of these concepts that I have written about in the past have actually turned into league rules, such as the coaches idea, and the free agent compensation idea. Going forward with this article, I believe that a few more of these ideas could be implemented in the future. It is a big feeling knowing that my work has a positive influence on the league.” – Dustin Funk

Now, I’m not always in accordance or in agreement with all of his ideas, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting, or that they aren’t good. What Funk and I see as being good for the league may differ greatly, but give it up for his creativity, because there are things that he comes up with or discovers from whatever research he does that I would never be able to think up no matter how hard I tried. With people like the Funk brothers continuing their great work with the magazine, I find it hard to believe that the VHL magazine will falter any time soon.

We just need another Funk brother to make this picture accurate

With so many previous failures in trying to create and maintain an interesting, weekly VHL magazine, one has to wonder why this was the magazine that stuck. What’s the difference between this magazine and the ones that couldn’t get off the ground? There are many reasons, but you have to start at the top with the magazine’s editor, Raymond Funk. Funk is dedicated, diligent, and driven in his quest to keep the magazine going week after week, and thus far, it has worked for over a year.

”The big reason why this edition of the magazine works is Ray. He is on top of things, and above all else, is committed to make this work. I know there are weeks where the writers don't have anything submitted or something else pops up, but he has managed to just grab a random article and insert it in there. Also, I think that with the professional look that it has, rather then a few threads or something like that, the VHL actually has something that looks and feels like a true to life magazine.” – Dustin Funk

I can attest to the fact that truly great pieces of media are not quick to complete. It’s easy to imagine that putting the magazine together takes a long time, and careful attention to detail. Still, with a man like Raymond Funk heading the charge, one shouldn’t have to worry about the reliability and the consistency of the weekly magazine releases. Sometimes we get a late edition every now and then, but it’s always there week after week waiting and ready for us to read and enjoy it.

”Depending on the timeliness of the articles submitted, to apply the articles into the magazine takes about 30 to 45 minutes. The true challenge is that I read each and every article. Applying the appropriate images and titles and quotes generally takes me about 3 to 4 hours. The most difficult part is formatting the images, cropping them, and finding the appropriate images for the articles. Though I enjoy the creativity of the writers, sometimes the task of finding the right images is extremely difficult.

I hope the magazine goes on as long as possible. Obviously, if the readers are still there and the quality of work is there too, then I can see this magazine going for quite a while. More importantly, however, it is the strength of my writers that keeps this magazine a true success.”
– Raymond Funk

When it comes to the future of the VHL magazine, there are few people who instill more confidence in someone than Raymond Funk. The hands in which the VHL magazine is are very, very good hands. With brother Dustin at his side, we can rest assured that as long as nothing crazy happens, the VHL magazine should still be around as long as there is a willing and receptive audience looking forward to it every week.

From what I know, Raymond Funk will be able to continue to generate his magazine editions every week as long as he gets the help he needs. There’s no doubting his dedication to producing the piece of media every week, but we need to come in and provide him with what to publish. Therefore, Funk’s part of the job, we can count on, is done. There rest, as they say, is up to us.

End of part 17
Special thanks to Robbie Zimmers, Dustin Funk, and Raymond Funk


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