Much-needed coffee leads to media musings.

As I mentioned early on, one of the reasons I am here with the Cross-Conference Collector is academic. I have been writing about soccer and sports media for as long as I have been in higher education. I have been bouncing my ideas off of my partner here for nearly as long, and she has been the most indulgent listener (even though I am not always right).

There is an interesting divide in my area of study. There are those who are on a crusade to save as many people and right as many wrongs as possible. Then there are those who are jaded, cynical, and tired of the futile fight against the system. Those who haven’t committed to a side are just biding their time.

I haven’t committed, but I think spending last semester surrounded by crusaders pushed me to take the research I had been working on and do something with it. I have been disappointed that academic/”informed” discussions of women’s sports and media pay little attention to soccer except for Chastain’s shirtlessness in 1999. I have been disappointed in the recent decline in mainstream coverage and US Soccer’s avoidance of the women’s youth national teams. I have been increasingly disappointed by the mainstream approach to college soccer. The Cross-Conference project isn’t meant to be a solution to any of those problems, but it helps me lend however small a voice to the bigger conversation.

In the past year, outside of academics, I’ve been finding myself surrounded by people that are lending small voices to the bigger conversation. A friend is involved in making women’s soccer pages and updates on Wikipedia. This isn’t a platform I am involved with, but I find it inspiring. I love that she is committed to putting (current) women’s soccer information in a place where the public can search for it. She gets frustrated sometimes, and I love that, too; she obviously cares about contributing to this resource and making sure the information is correct. When she gripes about US Soccer erasing old YNT stats and making her calculate those on her own, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling. Someone cares, US Soccer, even though that someone is not you.

Her work on Wikipedia prompted me to move on my own little projects, prior to the opening of the Collector. The U-20 USWNT tumblr is a group effort at aggregating this cycle’s coverage of the U-20 team. This has been a challenge, particularly during the CONCACAF tournament, but I found myself missing the work during the U-17 campaign. I worry that the U-17s’ unfortunate loss will further US Soccer’s neglect of the women’s YNTs, including this year’s U-20s.

If US Soccer had neglected the U-21s or U-20s four years ago, I don’t know that I would have had an opportunity become quite so invested in the players that went on to play in the WPS. I might not have dragged friends to W-League games two or three hours away. I probably wouldn’t have spent so much of 2008 hunting down what coverage I could of the U-20 team that would eventually win the World Cup in Chile.

So I suppose I am on a crusade of sorts. Lack of discussion makes me want to have discussion. Lack of mainstream coverage makes me want to get involved in grassroots coverage. And lack of investment from the higher-ups (in the academy and US Soccer) makes me want to say, “[Forget] you, authority. We’ll do this on our own.”

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