My Semi-Annual, Semi-Existential Post: Death to the Sweeper

Here’s to hoping no one either saw or remembered the last post of this sort (posted September 17, for the curious). But this being a slow Friday, it feels like a good day to get an editorial issue off my chest.

There’s some searching going on out there of, at very least, intentions. In what was likely the most prominent piece out there, J Hutcherson from USSoccerplayers.com posted a low-simmer indictment of soccer reporting in the States. It’s worth reading (and short…so get to it), but the key segment comes with this:

“Ask a basic question: on its best day, what is professional American soccer writing? I’m pretty sure it’s not journalists relying on early press release material as exclusive sources, working as the mouthpiece of an agent, or simply pulling the now tired blogging trick of letting other people do the actual work while the writer links and comments.”

I’m seeing a lot of what Hutcherson is seeing…hell, I’ve done a lot of what Hutcherson describes (“now tired blogging trick…” ahem….hey! Look over there!). But that’s only part of what I’m doing here…and that has to do with, 1) that old, September 17 post, and 2) the Daily Sweeper feature. A part of that involves applying the same spirit that Hutcherson applies to soccer writing to the work I do here.

So, to resubmit the questions I asked on September 17, who am I? What am I doing here? I hinted at some answers the first time around. Here, I’ll be answering those (pretty) directly.

First of all, let the record show that I view myself as a blogger, not a reporter; since I don’t live in an MLS market, actual reporting isn’t on the horizon and I don’t see doing that from a blogging platform, anyway (I need cash money to talk to strangers). As such, the “now-tired blogging tricks” are essentially my bread and butter and I’m aware of their limitations. That reality aside, I still want to do original analysis, to actually observe and think about soccer and things related thereto. The bulk of the content will be about games; I’m really in this to watch and discuss games. My interest in players pretty much stops the moment they leave the field, or get on it for another team – and I’m a whore for rumors – so don’t expect a lot of discussion of what nice boys these players are. My hope is that I’ll approach it all with something at least subtly different – whether in terms of voice or style of analysis – and bring enough original thinking as I write to make visits worthwhile. Otherwise, why should someone bother to stop by?

And that’s why the Daily Sweeper must, once again, die. It’s not that it’s a bad feature; indeed, the inspiration for the segment came from wanting to provide something approaching “total coverage” (but, du Nord does that already, right? Yep) and, no less significantly, to flag other bloggers’ and pundits’ good work. While both goals are laudable, I typically linked to the “heavies” (e.g. Goff, Galarcep, Carlisle, Bradley, Wahl, Lalas…the sane one, etc.) – e.g. stuff that people reading this site had quite probably have read before they came to read me. In the end, this not only makes for redundancy, but it’s also fairly time-consuming. So, yeah, adieu Dear Sweeper….though, the record does show that thing has more lives than three freakin’ cats.

That’s only part one, really. And feel free to stop reading here, because it only gets more indulgent. I haven’t yet answered a couple related questions – and they’re big ones. Here, in no particular order, are those:

Why do you blog about soccer?
A couple reasons. First, I have the time. Let’s just say I’m under-employed. On any given day, my job requires between 1/3 and 3/4 of my time. I fill the other 2/3 to 1/4 of that time by reading and writing about soccer. I kept (and keep) that job because I have a family to feed, I need insurance, etc., etc. Still, things are a-changin’ and I’ll be moving on sooner rather than later. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I intend to keep writing.

OK, that’s why you blog. But why do you blog about soccer, specifically?
Between its creativity, (usual) drama, and the way each game tells a story – which in turn tell the story of the season, which, in turn, begets game’s history – I just love the game and, therefore, find it easy to write about. I’m basically into soccer blogging for the chance to say, “Hey, did you see that?” But, and this is crucial, it still possesses a kind of triviality that allows for pleasant disagreement – or, failing that, I find heated disagreement about soccer comical, as in, “you’re not over that?”…till the first punch is thrown anyway. That’s when I assume the person to whom I’m speaking is either deranged or retarded.

OK, so I read the Hutcherson’s piece and there’s this line in there about “punditry the message boards can do for themselves.” Why bother with a stand-alone blog if you can do the same thing on BigSoccer?
BigSoccer and I just aren’t a good fit. Mechanically, message boards are tedious. On a more personal level, I can’t stand the “super fan” and “I am God” shit one gets from too many of the posters. In the end, I view BigSoccer the same way I view supporters’ groups: I’m glad someone is doing it, but it’s not for me. Also, I can only do nearly the same thing; here, I have nearly total freedom. More significantly, though, I think I’ve found a pretty cool little community among the Soccer Bloggers. It’s just really great, as I see it, to have a group of knowledgeable and chill people to whom I get to say, “Hey, did you see that?” That we’re not precisely the same people – I’d say I’m one of the few not somehow associated with a supporters’ group – only makes it a little bit cooler.

I’m still not seeing the connection between this and Hutcherson’s gripe about the soccer media.
Consider this 1) a blog-level response to Hutcherson’s media criticism, and 2) my 2008 resolution to refrain from posting just to post – or, worse, posting every little thought that pops into my head. I’m generally a “bee-in-the-bonnet” kind of writer – it takes aggravation or excitement to bring out my (considerable) gift of gab – so I intend to make actually waiting on inspiration a central part of future plans. Anyone who has read this space over the past few months knows I can churn out stupid amounts of content. Barring motivation (read: opportunity and cash) I’d like to try something a little different.

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