Soccer Without Limits, also known as SWOL, is a fantastic soccer blog for everyone from the beginner to the advanced soccer fanatic, although it certainly seems to favor the beginner fan. It has aspects of analysis, news, and soccer culture that will impress any of its readers. Furthermore, it simply breaks down different countries and tournaments so readers are able to easily navigate between different parts of football. While it is not quite as well known as other blogs, such as those on ESPN FC, it has a number of authors that are able to contribute both factual as well as opinionated pieces that allow readers to obtain multiple aspects of the game.
While the news is provided by a variety of authors, the blog seems to fall short in the amount of content. There is often, in any blog, a tradeoff that must exist between amount of content and quality of content. There is a wide variety of content, ranging from different leagues to different countries to different tournaments, however the amount of content is certainly not exhaustive. For example, in the most recent World Cup Qualifying round, there are just four match reports explaining what occurred over the weekend and early week. For a reader that is looking for a general overview rather than specific match reports, perhaps it is beneficial to understand what is happening in just a few games. However, to the reader looking for in-depth analysis of every game, there is simply not enough content to be able to analyze at such a high level.
More specifically, the analysis, although not plentiful, is high quality. For example, under SWOL’s Team Transfer Analysis, the authors go in-depth on specific transfers that were reported. While on other blogs, they often review the team and generally give them grades, SWOL is able to utilize their high-quality content to analyze specific transfers and how they will affect both the teams and the leagues. The analysis they offer, however, touches only on the larger transfers and tends to neglect the transfers that may not have been quite as “high profile.” For the reader who is simply looking to be updated in the world of football on transfers and the most important ones, SWOL certainly fulfills this request.
Focusing on the news and analysis they provide within leagues and based on matches, it seems to fall short in quantity of content once again. For many games, they provide the pre-game lineups and a couple of paragraphs about these lineups, but SWOL’s authors fail to go very in-depth on anything beyond what you might see in a 30-second Sportscenter spot. Once again, for the reader who is looking to simply remain updated, SWOL provides the content necessary. However, for anyone who is an avid fan, SWOL’s pre-game analysis falls short. In terms of post-game analysis, the blog seems to randomly select games to analyze and when they do, they do a fairly poor job of doing so.
What is interesting that SWOL does, however, is host a number of Google Hangouts for various “big” matches. For example, they recently did one (below) with a few of their authors for the Tottenham vs. Arsenal game. For anyone looking for in-depth analysis on specific games, these are fantastic ways to learn about all aspects of the game. Because there are multiple authors, the listener can receive multiple viewpoints in order to create their own opinion. This falls in line with the trend in blogs moving from prose to multimedia applications, providing photos and videos to readers who can obtain news and updates in a variety of manners. This is definitely an aspect of SWOL that allows for the blog to keep a leg up on its competition. These hangouts have seen success in the past as they tend to be the most-viewed pieces on the blog.
For the lover of soccer (but not fanatic) like me, a fantastic part of the blog is their Culture section. The reason it appeals to readers like me is that it is not quite as similar to other blogs. They pull content from elsewhere and are able to add their own twist and add their own opinion. This page appeals to me because it shows that soccer is more than just a game of X’s and O’s. That athletes are more than just people who play a game for a living. SWOL does a great job of analyzing some fun things that occur off the field as well to demonstrate the effects that football has on the lives of players. They have an interesting contrast of content whereby they portray players as heroes and idols, while other times they show the politics involved in backing a teammate and showing confidence in one another.
Overall, SWOL provides a wide variety of content that ranges from analysis, to news, to rumors, to culture. For a novice soccer fan like me, SWOL’s content is perfect for me to be able to keep up with the news of the game and whats goes on both on and off the field. However, for the experienced soccer fan, I would recommend a reader passes and ventures off to another blog that has the capabilities of providing either more specific content catered toward one area or can provide the amount of content necessary to cover the many topics of football.