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  • I'm back, now with 50% less cynicism about the state of Canada's soccer media scene


    Well, it’s been a while. Last time I was here, my wife was nine months pregnant, I had a mundane day job, and Canada put in a terrible performance in the Women’s World Cup in Germany.

    Flash forward a few months, and I’m a dad, I’m the Footy Blog editor at the Score, and Canada put in a terrible performance in CONCACAF World Cup second stage qualifying against Puerto Rico.

    Which is to say, things change, including the fortunes of the Canadian national team, my lame joke aside. We’re still obviously light years behind where we need to be (yes we) within CONCACAF, but hope’s are running high for the future in some quarters, much of which has to do with what’s happening in parallel with the national set-up.


    The TFC blog Waking the Red points out for instance that the Canadian soccer kids are alright, with Ashtone Morgan coming into his own at Toronto FC and the groundbreaking at Downsview on the new TFC training facility.

    While 2014 is likely a big ask for the Canadian mens team (although certainly not outside the realm of reasonable possibilities), the future, depending on a large number of future contingencies, looks relatively bright.

    So what does this have to do with media criticism? In my new job at the Score, I’ve been pouring over various Canadian soccer blogs on a daily basis for the last few months. I’ve always been proud of the quality of (relatively) DIY soccer journalism in this country, with sites like CSN leading the way.

    The coverage is so good that it no longer seems to make much sense to continue to chide the MSM sports media scene, which still bumbles and stumbles its way around the Canadian soccer wilderness. After results like that on Tuesday night, it’s not hard to blame them. Sex sells, and sexy sports sells, and, well, Canadian football is about as sexy as a tax return at the moment. In a perfect world, the media would “do their job,” so to speak, but they’re struggling and hockey is what the people want.

    But you knew that already. The reason I’m hopeful for the many talented, dedicated soccer writers in this county is because I’m hopeful about the future prospect of the national team. As they improve, the massive , yawning gap in coverage will have to be filled in some capacity by the voracious sports media machine. The blogosphere offers up that talent ready made; all the various Canadian media organizations have to do is hoover them up.

    It’s already happened in many cases around the Canadian soccer scene. Most of the writers here wear two hats, one in media and the other in independent blogging. Despite all the hyperbole (some of it fueled by yours truly), digital media isn’t poised to destroy the print media industry. What we’re seeing instead is a series of happy mergers—between television, the web, and magazines.

    As Canadian soccer improves, so will interest, over a long, long period of time. That doesn’t mean soccer will suddenly come into its own as a mainstream Canadian sport; it does however offer some hope that those producing excellent soccer coverage in this country will finally be able to earn something approximating a living wage for their labour.

    Richard Whittall's column appears every Thursday. His work can be read daily on the Footy Blog at the Score

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