By Chris Nam
The soccer blogosphere contains hundreds and hundreds of sites that offer opinions and analyses of all aspects of the world’s most popular sport. Many have their niche within this network supporting a certain team, showing highlights of games seconds after they finish, or offering up to date news and analysis of the business or political side. One such blog, The Original Winger, takes a different approach in contributing to the worldwide influence of soccer. The Original Winger is an online lifestyle magazine that views soccer as more than just a sport on the pitch. It is inspired by the lifestyle and culture of soccer that influence millions of people around the world in every facet of their lives. It actually initially started as an extension of the apparel company Bumpy Pitch, which sells clothes inspired by the history of soccer as well as the roots of Los Angeles where the founders grew up. The Original Winger began as a platform to engage and interact with their customers on a daily basis to spread the sport’s culture.
At first glance, one already notices that this blog is more than just a typical site that shows highlights of games or up to date news and analyses. It has tabs like Culture and Lifestyle, Music, Photography, and even Beautiful Women, showing it’s natural tendency to gear towards a male audience. After glancing through several different pages throughout the blog, I was surprised to see how many articles were posted that seemed to have nothing to do with soccer. For example, under the videos tab, a trailer for The Last Days on Mars is posted with a description of the UK based movie. The movie has no soccer basis or relationship yet contributes to the culture of England, often called the birthplace of soccer. These sorts of pages, ones that seemingly should be anywhere but a soccer blog, expand the user’s knowledge about the culture that surrounds soccer, giving them a better understanding of how soccer is immersed in the area. If anything, they offer interesting little tidbits on what is going on around the world.
Being a soccer blog, the site does offer post game highlights of most of the games from the more popular leagues around the world, including the English Premier League, MLS, and La Liga. However these posts are often short summaries of the game that only detail the goal scorers and maybe a comment or two on the significance of the game. They rely more on the video highlights that they pull from bigger sports highlight sites like Fox Sports, ESPN, or a video from YouTube. If users are looking for a full game summary with an in depth analysis of each team’s play, then this blog is probably not for them. A site more dedicated to highlights and summaries like ESPNFC would provide more avid soccer viewers a better breakdown of the previous night’s game or big trade. In addition, it is a bit difficult to find these highlights, as they are interspersed with the other articles concerned with everything off the pitch.
And by everything off the pitch, I really do mean everything off the pitch. The site keeps tabs on many of the famous players around the world in their everyday lives, reporting on seemingly minute details like Ronaldinho getting his teeth fixed for 36,000 Euros. This also brings me to the “Beautiful Women” portion of the blog, the part where most men would be intrigued to click at least once upon visiting the site. The column features a WAG (Wives and Girlfriends) Wednesday post that appears weekly where they show one significant other of a footballer who is deemed particularly attractive. Using words like “bonafide smokeshow” surely show the site’s gear towards male viewers. Inclusion of these posts and this section of the site shows the continued male dominated view of the sport worldwide. The blog fails to offer any news or articles about women’s soccer or any woman’s contribution to the sport, besides being a pretty face or having an attractive body.
Another interesting section of the blog concerns the artistic side of the site, including photography and music. In the photography tab, the blog runs a “Soccer around the World” column posting one photo capturing the essence of the sport at a certain event or area in the world. In one of the posts, the photograph shows a large Manchester United FC poster on the side of a building in Bangkok, Thailand while another shows the blog writers watching a US soccer game at one of their favorite bars. These pictures portray how soccer influences different parts of the world and truly shows the unifying culture of soccer. I believe that this aspect of the blog is truly fascinating as it is able to tell a story beyond anything that happens on the field. These pictures are often submitted by the site’s viewers offering many interesting worldwide perspectives on the influences of soccer. The music portion of the site also offers a look at the lifestyle aspect of soccer. They post all of the newly released songs, focusing mainly on rock and rap, and advertise the latest musical gear that apparently every football fan needs like headphones. As one blogger said, “find me one athlete who doesn’t constantly have headphones on. It really is an extension of the lifestyle of athletes.” I believe that these posts are what separate this blog from others, by allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves in the worldwide culture and lifestyle of soccer. For those avid fans who are strictly looking for technical reviews of soccer matches, much better sites do exist. This blog is made for those looking to see how soccer influences people around the world and to gain an understanding of soccer as more than just a sport.