Since writing my research proposal last semester, I have been meaning to get my hands on some writing by Georgakopoulou regarding “small stories” or narratives. Last year was perfect for looking at the construction and ownership of narratives in women’s soccer. I could go on at length at how angry ESPN’s approach to college soccer made me, but that is too easy and unproductive. A more fascinating and educational analysis would look at Cal Berkeley, but that takes me tangentially to the WPS, which I think can take a lot of credit for pushing the diversity of narratives across various levels of the sport.
I remind myself that, as a responsible academic, I still need to question the filters and PR at work here. Choices are always being made, and agendas are always at work. But sometimes, it’s important to be positive, to look at and encourage (and celebrate) the progress. In feminist/action research, you acknowledge that you are approaching your studies with a bias and intent. It’s a balancing act. I don’t claim that this blog is anything so formal as those labels, but I do acknowledge that I know I have bias and intent. I do try to balance.
I also get really, really excited sometimes and put off the “hard” questions so I can just enjoy media that brings out the fangirl in me. Nearly a week later, Pitch Invasion’s article on Kelsey Davis still does this for me. This is partly because I really, really like Kelsey Davis–even though she transferred from UCLA to a team that rivals mine, then was drafted by Chicago (again, not my team). I genuinely enjoy what this athlete brings to the sport, both on the field and off. But this entry is not an encomium of Davis.
So the other reason I am so excited over this article is that, to me, it pings on my narrative radar. These are not canned responses and this article is not canned writing–both of which smack of filtering and outside control. There are different threads in this piece: Kelsey Davis, Davis as a student, Davis as a daughter, Davis as a person, Davis as a developing athlete, Andrew Guest, Guest as a fan of soccer, Guest as an academic, Guest as a person. This is an instance where the writer and the subject seem to be giving equally to the piece in a way that speaks not only about themselves, but about this sport and how this level of this sport at this moment in time has something to say about the sport and society.
I get that Tobin Heath was the number one draft pick, that Amy Rodriguez won a gold medal, that Yael Averbuch trains hard and is going to Algarve. I hear that there is this amazing player named Marta, and apparently she’s won some awards and gets paid more than anyone else in the league. I have yet to see anyone care so much about what those players bring to the sport, or give such thought and consideration to their narratives and how they embody what there is to love about soccer.
This level of caring, this depth of character, this degree of relevance and willingness to share that narrative is something to strive for. That is part of the beautiful game, too.