Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Beautiful Century

From the Solipsism & Laziness Department: This is Eleven Devils' 100th post. My four faithful readers will have noted that the blog has slowed to a crawl in recent weeks, and I'd have to say that its future is a bit uncertain at this point. So I thought I'd post a few inward-gazing thoughts for now, and let things take whatever new shape they may going forward.

The blog started at the beginning of America's strange summer-time soccer high season. (The first real post, as archive enthusiasts will see, concerned the Barca-Arsenal European Championship match.) As a huge soccer nerd and supposed professional writer, I knew that I would A) Spend a disgraceful amount of time watching football during working hours and B) Completely fail to persuade anyone to pay me to write about it. So, a blog, intended primarily to track ("cover" would be too lofty a word) the World Cup and the Portland Timbers' concurrent USL First Division campaign. If I managed the odd musing on the global, national and local state of football culture—which, apart from the weird majesty of the game itself, is what I'm really interested in—so much the better.

I flatter myself that it's gone fairly well. The blog has a few readers and a few commenters, which is about what I expected and hoped for. But the World Cup is long gone, and the Timbers' season has reached a bitter and unsatisfying end. (Venture over to the Timbers Army website for a portrait of a small club locked in what seems to be a permanent existential crisis.) So, while there is certainly much to write about in the world of football—from the forthcoming MLS championship to the glamourous Premiership to the twisted opera of Serie A—Eleven Devils' primary raisons d'etre have expired. I expect to continue to post here, because I love writing about football and only intermittently find other venues for doing so. Maybe I'll get back on the near-daily (or even multi-daily) posting schedule achieved during the World Cup. Maybe not.

For now, I find it useful to think about the Portland Timbers' home match against the Montreal Impact last Thursday—a 0-1 loss as it happened, but a great reminder of what football is really good for. Oh, the play on the pitch (and the disgraceful plastic pitch itself) was mostly a disaster. But the scenes in the stands and concourses were a delight. The Timbers Army, though perhaps a little thin with exhaustion after a frustrating and fruitless season, was in huge voice. A pair of bag-pipers and a fantastic horn player provided a haphazard but stirring soundtrack. Our team may have been a shambles for most of the season, but the Timbers fans united for two hours of free-spirited, creative, untamed, unprogrammed, non-marketing-oriented fun and life. If you've been to many sporting events in the USA recently, you know how rare that is. If you've been to a Portland Timbers match—or hung out with Chicago's Section 8 or DC's Barra Brava or any of the other little nests of dissenters who make up the vast, complex and growing American Football Nation, a force that could yet redefine this country's culture for the better—you know how valuable it can be.

Again, this ain't no sign off—just a reflection. Thanks to all who read.


Dan said...

Listen, fagiola, I want to read what you have to say, but if you have nothing to say, then shut up already.

If this is indeed g'bye -- and I suspect it is, thanks for the laugh.

Lynda said...

No, it can't be a goodbye. I for one am looking forward to the 200th Eleven Devils post and onward.

And the description of the fantastic grassroots fan base in American soccer may have brought a tear to my eye, it did.

Mike said...

This seems like a great opportunity to invite you to join the ongoing party over at UH and write about soccer on True Fan. -Mikey