Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

Sixteen years ago, right about this time of year (give or take a few days) I decided to unleash CanadaKicks onto the world wide web as we old timers so charmingly called it back then.  I had just been laid off from my Board of Education position, times were tight with a young family and I decided that there might be something to this new internet thing everyone was talking about and maybe learning a few new skills might be in order.

Starting out as an AOL page under the Compuserve banner the page soon took a life of it's own and from day one served as a place where Canadian soccer fans, largely ignored (and not thought to exist) by the mainstream media, finally had a place to get some news (even a press release was a big deal back then), the occasional piece of opinion and eventually some solid writing from a number of contributors.  We were welcomed by one and all from the top to the bottom of the game and I'd like to think that the site played some small role in getting the game in Canada into the 21st century whether it was ready or not. (We were actually online before the CSA not much of an achievement I admit but a milestone nonetheless. )

CanadaKicks, at the time, was very much a lone voice in the dark, cold wilderness.

You have to remember at that time, the latest incarnation of the Canadian Soccer League had been gone for a few years leaving just Montreal and Vancouver playing in something called the A-League and besides that not much else.  The Americans had just hosted a successful beyond anyone's imagination World Cup and with the launch of MLS in the coming summer seemed poised to leave Canada and our schizoid approach to the game well in the dust.

The times have definitely changed. Over the years we added CanadaKicks radio (thanks TEAM1200 in Ottawa) podcasts, blogging and now Twitter but resisted Facebook (at least as a business forum) and Google+ all the while knowing that the site was no longer the lonely acapella voice in the wilderness but part of a major symphony of sound and information emanating from points high and low across the country.

The number of top quality fan driven sites is quite amazing (and continue to increase it seems daily) for a country of our size, the corporate big media types have just in the last few months increased their coverage in both terms of amount and talent so the game has never been in safer hands when it comes to coverage both on and off the field.  We may not be world class (yet) on the field but I would put our coverage up against any other nation expecting us not just to compete but win the odd big game.

This onslaught of information is a both a good and bad thing - for with all the quality (and there is plenty of it) there comes the quantity which while great in number often lacks in substance, talent and true insight.  In short it's a perfect reflection of the game in Canada and what it has been for too many years - the ongoing march down the path of participation over the more difficult road making of striving for achievement and quality.

Ever wonder why soccer in Canada is calling it the LTPD (Long Term Player Development) instead of its true name LTAD (Long Term Athlete Development)?  Players = Inclusive i.e. Everyone Plays while Athletes = Exclusive i.e. We work hard to be successful.  Which do you think is easier to swallow for the most politically correct of all sporting bodies?  Now you know.

Meanwhile, "We apologise for the inconvenience."

Bill Ault
Twitter: @bill_ault

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