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Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Letters to the Editor

    Some of the mainstream media response to the Canadian National Team’s match versus Ecuador in Toronto Wednesday has been less than adequate.

    The Toronto Sun had a lone article in their online edition, perhaps there was more coverage in the print edition. Their usual soccer reporter had the night off, so the duty of covering the match fell to a basketball staffer. While it is admirable that he should step up and provide copy to the public, events in the basketball world – the retirement of Shaq and the firing of Raptors coach, Jay Triano – prevented him from actually attending the match, instead watching it on television and painting a less than complete picture of the events.

    The Toronto Star no longer has a dedicated soccer writer, preferring to pick pieces off the wire. A pre-match story from the Canadian Press was followed by a match report from the same source. While adequate in content, such general news items are not personal enough to convey the impetus of a Canadian National Team playing at home. 

    The Globe & Mail website does not even seem to have bothered to include a match report, though there was some build-up from the Canadian Press. They instead focused on the scandals at FIFA and the CSA’s stance in the Blatter v. Reform debates.

    TSN, who has admittedly made an effort of late, ran those same Canadian Press stories and had a short highlight reel on Sportscentre.

    The CBC’s coverage was exceptional considering the quality of their rival’s attempts. Having backed soccer as the sport of the future, it was no more than was expected.

    The Score and their Footy team provided some excellent coverage, highlighted by a discussion of tactics with head coach Stephen Hart.

    Rogers Sportsnet, rights holders for the match, probably provided the most coverage, but they preferred - like most outlets – to focus on the age-old negative of the lack of support for Canada versus the enthusiasm of whatever nationality is visiting.

    Rogers’ radio arm, Fan590, can only seem to find a single hour-a-week to devote to the other Football. The Soccer Show is an excellent program, but in Vancouver they get two hours each Sunday of Full Time from TEAM 1040, as well as the Monday to Friday Whitecaps FC Daily, while Montreal’s TEAM 990 has the excellent Oranges @ Halftime three times-a-week. Granted as the TEAM stations appear to be Bell affiliates, perhaps TSN Radio, who have done a decent job of acknowledging the soccer world, have some plan in the works to rectify the lack of dedicated soccer programming.

     Times have been difficult on media of late, but it is no coincidence that the three outlets that provided the best coverage are those who have maintained a dedicated soccer intelligentsia while others have let their departments whither.

    It is not that there are no persons of adequate ability to provide the coverage. It is simply that those people are not being put in place to maintain some quality coverage. Perhaps it would be prudent to back the Support Local Football campaign with an organized pressure on the various media outlets around the country and local to the match in particular.

    A quick internet search shows very little fanfare in Windsor regarding the upcoming Gold Cup match against the US in Detroit. A lone piece in the Windsor Star referring to quotes from Alexi Lalas regarding how Canada has fallen behind Mexico and the US on May 17th is all the build-up being allowed for Canada’s opening match just across the river in Detroit. The underground word-of-mouth publicity of the Voyageurs network can only do so much to inform the populace.

    It falls to an army of bloggers and a dedicated few journalists to provide opinion and commentary on what really happened at BMO Field on Wednesday night and what current news surrounding the National Team is available.

    And that is the shame of Canadian Soccer, not the yellow-clad fans, not the incompetence and provincial lethargy of the CSA, not even the apathy of supposed Old World fans to the game in their own backyard.

     If a game goes on, but nobody really talks about it, did it really happen?

     Soccer fans in this country have to log long hours and dig deep to feed their passion. They have long memories and reward those who assist them. The leadership of the CBC, The Score and Rogers Sportsnet, will not be forgotten when Canadian Soccer comes of age. To the other outlets, get with the times, lest you be left behind.

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