Question: What do you get when you cross soccer and “The Onion”?
Answer: The Howler
The Howler began as a Kickstarter project in 2012 and has since transformed into a soccer magazine produced in the U.S. with a global audience in over 25 countries. Aside from just the magazine, there is also an accompanying website and three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). The main focus of this page will be on their website which consists of a combination of “Podcasts” and “Stories.” A group of editors routinely contribute to the two aforementioned sections on the site, however, current and former players, managers, and referees as well as esteemed professionals often add to the conversation too. Even though The Howler is not as reliable a source as other soccer news outlets such as Fox Soccer, ESPN FC, or something of the like, the way in which they choose to broadcast the “news” makes it a bookmark on my home page and one of my most frequented sites.
In the “Podcasts” section of the website there are six different categories: “Dummy”, “Howler Radio,” “Dirty Tackle,” “The Play,” “The Mixxed Zone,” and “The Double Pivot.” For most of the categories a new podcast is released every week and they are relatively short ranging from 15-30 minutes often consisting of interviews. Below is a brief description, taken directly from their website, of each category and one of my own recommendations/personal favorites.
Description: Interviews with smart soccer people
Recommendation: Why do friends let friends become referees?
The psychology behind choosing to be a referee.
Description: Hilarious and heartbreaking stories about soccer
Recommendation: The Panenka
Stories of the famed style of taking penalty kicks.
Description: Football. Culture. Nonsense
Recommendation: House Hunting with Zlatan
No description necessary, but I can guarantee it will make anyone laugh.
Description: Professional players on what’s really happening on the field and in the locker room
Recommendation: Sorting out if home field advantage is actually a thing
Spoiler Alert: It is a thing.
Description: The wild world of WoSo
Recommendation: Free to take a knee?
A response to Megan Rapinoe’s decision to kneel during the national anthem.
Description: Analysis and analytics
Recommendation: Is there a right way to be a fan?
*Listener discretion is advised as sometimes the podcasts are explicit
Unlike the podcasts there are no categories for the “Stories” section but instead a rather large archive. Although The Howler uses humor, most pieces actually contain real soccer news which is part of what makes this site so unique. Stories are released frequently, typically every day or every other day.
There are the rather sentimental articles, “Two fans of rival clubs show the world how football can inspire, unify, and transcend sight or sound;” a story of Cesar, a Sante Fe fan, and Jose Richards a blind and deaf, Millionarios fan who relies on the rival supporter (Cesar) to understand the game. Of course there are also the more satiric articles like “Arsene Wenger claims that winning fewer trophies makes his record more impressive than Sir Alex Ferguson’s,” poking fun at the disappointment that is Wenger’s career, in comparison to arguably one of the greatest managers of all time.
Some of my favorite pieces are:
- “What if ‘America’s best athletes’ played soccer?” – Examining an interview Landon Donovan had on the Dan Patrick Show that enraged soccer fans, and rightly so.
- “Love and soccer with Ray Hudson, the game’s most passionate color man” – An interesting look into Hudson’s life, my favorite commentator of all time.
- “Why wasn’t Julie Ertz’s partner Zach at the US women’s national team friendly?” – An instant classic for any women’s soccer fan.
- “Journalists unite to demand FIFA hold redraw to get a true Group of Death in 2018 World Cup” – Quite relevant in lieu of the upcoming World Cup in just 3 months.
- “Inter players ruin holiday season by singing ‘Inter Bells'”– Watch/listen to it for yourself.
Whether it’s to listen to the state of the union of women’s soccer in the United States in “The Mixxed Zone” podcast or simply to laugh at Arsenal and their failure of a season (yet again) in the “Stories” section, The Howler provides the means. New fans of soccer looking to learn more about the sport and lifelong supporters looking to blow off some steam after their team loses will both find something to enjoy on this website.
Furthermore, if you are looking for a print media subscription to The Howler magazine, it can be purchased directly through their website; the cost of subscribing is $55 for four issues per year.