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  • The importance of fostering 'real' community in the Canadian soccer blogosphere


    Sorry for the extended break.

    Obviously, there’s been lots to talk about in the media landscape, what with a barely noticed CSA AGM the other day, save for the ever-intrepid Jason deVos, and a weird, short-lived media battle over the status of Nana Attakora at TFC. Plus there's the hyperbolic and bleak coverage of the Voyageurs Cup, which is apparently the last-stand for Toronto and the Whitecaps, at least as far as the Globe and Mail is concerned.


    I’ll get to that in the coming days, but today I wanted to focus on an interesting and encouraging conversation I had with RedNation Online’s Ian Clarke at the “Support Local Football” event at Toronto’s Football Factory.

    Following and writing about Canadian soccer is often, for most bloggers and journalists anyway, a lonely affair. When I started my first blog A More Splendid Life back in December of 2007, I was aware of only one similar Canadian amateur soccer writer, who went by the pseudonym Antonio Gramsci (his excellent soccer blog, Gramsci’s Kingdom, finally died in 2009). Over the years, more and more Canuck footy writers came to the fore, but it was a long time before I sat down and chit-chatted with any of them in a meaningful way.

    In that time, I did a short series on Canadian soccer history for my own blog in July 2008. I learned a lot about our football legacy that summer, its scholars and the best sources to discover as-yet unknown links in the historical chain dating back to the 1870s. I relied heavily on the work of historian Colin Jose, whose priceless work in this subject cannot be understated. And I discovered that having a library card and an internet connection meant you didn’t really have to leave your home to do any archival research.

    The weird and wonderful thing talking to Ian, whose own interest in the subject is documented over at RedNation, is that, independent of me, he’d gone through the same series of discoveries, read from the same sources, and discovered the same tricks (namely, that prudent searching for archived articles in online databases saves on trips to the microfiche section of the Toronto Reference Library). We’d come upon the same amazing events, and felt the same incredulity that they weren’t better known within the mostly twenty and thirty something Canadian soccer community.

    I couldn’t help think how much more progress we could have made if we had the opportunity to share notes earlier. While the internet offers an incredible means for amateur writers to jump in the soccer writing game and connect with like-minded CanSoc nerds, it isn’t always good at effective human interaction, the kind you get with a boring old community group with regular meetings. This is one reason for example why a collection of independent writers scattered across the country won’t ever be as an effective counter to organizations like the CSA as a traditional activist group.

    There are means of countering the atomization of the blogosphere. Groups like the Voyageurs, events like “Support Local Football” or the Socrates Football Blogger meet-up in the UK are all good ways of fostering a real community, although these events tend to be infrequent and haphazard. It would be of good value in future to organize something a little more regular perhaps. Nothing as tight-laced or networky as a convention, but a way for us to meet together and talk in an organized way to help move soccer forward in this country and not leave it to chance and other organizations with more money, power and regular, in-person AGMs.

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