Friday, July 17, 2009

Soccer Media Challenge #342,859

One of the challenges of following the Red Bulls in New York is the mainstream sports media's lack of team coverage. In a down year like this one, compounded with shrinking staffs at the city's daily papers, regular news about NYRB is scarce, and getting scarcer. The New York Times has stopped sending reporters to home matches years ago, choosing to pick up wire reports instead.

Last night's visit by Los Angeles, however, prompted the Gray Lady to send Joshua Robinson, a writer who clearly has no idea about how to write about soccer, to the Stade du Swamp.

In Adam Spangler's recent interview with Grant Wahl, author of The Beckham Experiment, Wahl states:
So often as a journalist covering American soccer, I feel like a business writer. That’s something that is important, but sometimes you really feel like that is more important than just about anything, especially what is taking place on the field. I think the people who read this book will see that it’s about the soccer. It’s about what goes on in the Galaxy locker room and the management of the team from a soccer perspective. The business stuff is important, and it has been tremendously successful, but sometimes we lose sight that it has to be about the sport at some point, you know?
Robinson's story of last night's 3-1 LA victory illustrates Wahl point fantastically. Only one of Robinson's 10-paragraph story mentions any part of the game action. He writes about the Donovan-Beckham kerfluffle. He writes about the boos that Beckham recieved on set pieces and when leaving the match. Robinson does not mention a single Red Bull player, New York's woeful record, or how three of the matches' four goals were scored.

Robinson did mention the attendance for the match: 23,238, and called the number "thin," without mentioning that the 23k represented the largest home crowd the Red Bulls have drawn this miserable season.

In order for this woeful franchise to be visible in New York's crowded sports marketplace, real soccer reporters, like the NY Post's Brian Lewis, have to be given the column inches to describe matches and game play, not just the "business" that happens outside the lines.