15 February 2007

In Which I Attempt to Answer the Question "Why Read The DCenters?"

This post is self-indulgent.

To be perfectly honest, I've been wondering about The DCenters and our place in this crazy soccer world recently. For about two years The DCenters had DC United related blogging mostly to itself. About a year ago, a few more DC United related blogs started to show up, and they were kindred spirits that we love. QuarterVolley, An American's View..., The Offside: DC United, these are the compatriots that made this place a lot of fun to work in. Oscar and Kinney have joined the DCenters, and their quality writing has certainly improved this place. The SoccerSphere as a whole exploded, and The DCenters was there watching it and doing its small part. Amateur-fan blogs devoted to MLS teams were popping up more and more among those general soccer or US blogs. It made me smile.

Recently the pros have gotten into a game that the amateurs were alone in. Ives went online. Fallas and Conway have been running Soccer y Futbol. Closer to home, Dan Steinberg and, oh yes, Steve Goff are turning in great United stuff. I am, of course, insanely jealous (and envious) of the fact that these guys are paid to cover the team. I'm not, and am not aware of any offers that would let me quit my existing day job so I could write blog posts on United. I have had to come to terms with the fact that for pure news coverage of United, or on MLS in general, I can't compete with these guys. They're better, faster, smarter, and have more time than I do.

With word that Matchnight is closing its virtual doors (although Viva United Mania), you can see that the pros are starting to displace some of the old haunts. Well, that's the marketplace for ya.

So I've been trying to think about what I have to offer you, the soccer fan, the DC United fan, the casual hipster, to keep you coming back here. We don't have the access or the time to compete with the pros, so what do we have? The answer is... We have Kinney, Oscar, Myself... and we have you.

When I first started getting some traffic stats, I estimate that we had maybe 30-50 regular readers. At this point I'd estimate we're somewhere in the 300-400 range. Whatever we've been doing over time, apparently we've done something right. The only thing that I know that we do is that we can offer our own opinions, our analysis, and links to the stuff we find interesting. We don't have to be objective, we can swear at times, and we can blog while sitting on the sofa eating corn chips. That's what I know we can offer. I also know what you can offer: Great comments that support us, put us in our place, or offer completely different interpretations in ways we hadn't though of. We'll still try to think through things to bring you our biased, but at least considered, opinions of what is happening. And I'm curious to know what you'd like to see more of, or less of, as the case may be. Let us know. In my heart of hearts, I believe that there is still something The DCenters has to offer to soccer world that's different from anyone else. I'd like to see that continue, in the best way it possibly can.



At 15 February, 2007 14:39, Anonymous Bob said...

There's room for everyone. Just because we aren't "pros" doesn't mean bloggers don't have valid opinions and that we can't provoke discussion. The more voices the merrier.

Keep up the good work!

At 15 February, 2007 15:32, Blogger JWVariant said...

While Goff et all may beat you to the punch in terms of "news", you have consistently offered brainpower -- analysis, commentary, and more -- that is not available in many other outlets. That is one thing that helps DCenters stand out in the crowded field, IMHO.

Keep at it!

At 15 February, 2007 17:26, Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

Looks like MatchNight's folding has a lot of people thinking. I've been kicking this around all day, too, whether by posting on it or just thinking about off-screen (I know...radical concept).

On one level, it's the sense of fun and the loose vibe of blogs that make them work, especially for something (excuse the word) as trivial as soccer.

But, in the off-season especially, there's something else at work. The one place where the pros can't reliably beat a blogger is with match reports. So long as we're watching the same games, and assuming rough parity in terms of knowing the game, we're no less qualified to comment. We may miss player interviews and the like (given what 90% of athletes say, I'm OK with this), but in terms of comparing notes from a game and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the players, we're roughly equal.

The off-season, though, is something else. Whether it's new, unknown players coming in or front office manueverings, the lack of access (which applies to me) is telling.

Anyway, that's just my most recent thoughts on this (and it figures they showed up on-screen somewhere).

At 15 February, 2007 17:30, Anonymous bdr said...

Pros are (in theory) limited by facts whereas we fans have opinions. Pros are (in theory) supposed to be dispassionate whereas we fans can scream our passion.

I've been posting less soccer stuff because I wonder if it's redundant, but once the season kicks in, and as long as I'm having fun, I'll be writing for my friends and for me. As long as I like it and they like it, that's validation.

As long as you're having fun.

I'll read.

At 15 February, 2007 18:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your efforts on this blog, great stuff

At 15 February, 2007 20:11, Anonymous rwhgeek said...

You keep writing, I'll keep checking in. Good job and thanks.

At 15 February, 2007 20:54, Anonymous Ray said...

DCenters has something that will continue to bring me back regardless of the emergence of the "pro" blogs: the personalities of the bloggers. The pro's cannot (and should not) be as passionate and emotionally invested in our team as the DCenters crew is. Your status as true fans who write well and understand the game (and the business dynamics of the sport) is why DCenters is (almost) always my first stop for my daily United news fix. Keep up the great work!

At 15 February, 2007 21:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly do enjoy your guys take on things and really hope you keep it going. It would suck to not be able to check your page 5 to 6 times a day for news... Thank You, I look forward to your next report analyzing United's new miracle aquisitons! sike!

At 16 February, 2007 00:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I check your site every day, right after CNN.com. Not kidding. Please keep up the good work.

At 16 February, 2007 09:29, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gimmie a break. The SpotsBog and Goff's Blog are separate aniumals altogether. I read the bog when I want background and personal interaction with the players, I read Goff when I want to hear Kasper's and Soehn's thoughts + breaking (and verified) news.... But I check the DCenters everyday for interesting discussions between fellow fans (from a fan's perspective).

To me, a "pro" can call what they do a Blog all they want, but the real McCoy is done by people like you, who offer a non traditional media perspective looking in from the outside (like me). Keep up the good work, I'll miss Matchnight, but I'd be really mad if your site faded away.

At 17 February, 2007 11:23, Blogger DCNats said...

I've always liked the fact that you're not a professional and don't have to burry any of your bias or passion for the team... at the same time you're certainly not some hack just rambling away.

DCenters offers several points of view and voices, but above all, good analysis... I can't tell you how many times I've heard a piece of DCU news and my first thoughts were: "I want to see what the guys at DCenters will say."

I know it's very hard for you to beat the pros to a story, but at the same time nobody expects you to. Your strength is analysis of the story. Keep up the great work!


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