Can soccer blogs become agents of change?

The aftermath of the bitter and divisive 2000 US presidential elections spawned a myriad of political blogs disillusioned with the bias of the mainstream media (MSM) narrative. On either side of the divide, blogs became agents of change challenging the MSM and supporting candidates who hew more closely to their vision. Blogs have become a potent counterpoint to the Washington echo chamber, a tight knit cabal of talking heads who push narratives like McCain is a maverick and tensions between Hispanic and African Americans voters will determine Barack Obama’s candidacy. An establishment that now appears to be on the defensive as millions turn to blogs who espouse a more unfiltered point of view, frequently are quicker on their feet, and do the legwork to expose fallacies and inconsistencies. Blogs have become so influential that candidates solicit their financial support, post up their opinions, and participate in their yearly conventions. The 2006 mid term elections that saw Democrats capture the House and Senate was engineered by the election of many candidates supported by progressive blogs. Many MSM outlets now have their own talking heads who write blogs or invite prominent bloggers to guest column. Blogs are now an accepted part of the political environment with a proven track record of influencing election outcomes.
By the same token, we do not have a similar seminal point in sports blogging. Deadspin, an anti-corporatist website that rails against ESPN, Fox Sports, and other mainstream sports media (MSSM) outlets has been chiefly set up to knock down sports as nothing more than providing entertainment. It is thus irreverent and tongue in cheek, mocking self important talking heads. Deadspin would be required reading for those sickened by Bob Costas and his saccharine sweet jingoism which grates every Olympics, ane event coming up soon. However for all its popularity, Deadspin has not forced a change in the narrative of the MSSM which is driven by above said Bob Costas and Bryant Gumbel who eulogize athletes with crushed ribs and bad parenting.
Deadspin is a US based blog and as such it is targeted primarily towards American sports. Fortunately, the winds are changing, more specifically towards a soccer based activism. Blogs that follow EPL clubs lead the way which makes sense as it is the most widely followed league in the world with more than 200m followers. The enormous bile towards the Premiership proposal of expanding its matches to overseas markets is forcing Richard Scudamore to rethink his proposal. Managers, sports pundits, and administrators have come out against the proposal. The FA hardly an activist organization is dead against the soccer expansion. But it is blogs who have coalesced fan anger, accusing the EPL of being anti-player in its mercenary pursuit of exploiting new markets for merchandising.
The process of forcing change has long been hampered by the fact that fans rarely have a say in the economic matters of the club or its club ownership. But last summer proved to be a milestone as blogs exposed the shady past of Alisher Usmanov as he tried engineering an Arsenal takeover. These Arsenal friendly blogs helped disseminate an unflattering article written by a Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan even as Usmanov’s lawyers sought to muzzle them in a cease and desist motion. The club’s governing board was forced to action and installed a lock down agreement that would prevent a hostile takeover. In contrast, Liverpool’s takeover proceeded with little opposition. However, later on, the US co-owners dubious solvency and irresolute behavior gave anxious Liverpool fans enough reason to believe that their club would once again be on the market. Blogs channeled this widespread discontent which led to a proposal by a group of committed Liverpool fans to buy out the club and run it as a co-operative. The proposal was passed onto blogs and their readers who crashed the group’s website.

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