The game of soccer, or football, can be viewed and experienced in thousands of different ways. The sport has the largest following of any competition in the world and those who follow it closely and even those who tune in every so often feel as though they know more than the next person. Because of this, and the complexities and varying styles of play, those who are passionate enough, and have some extra time on their hands, create blogs to express their views. Many of these blogs focus solely on one team by giving match reports or highlighting pregame strategies, while others seek to address every single transfer rumor and the repercussions and money that are involved with them. However, there are other blogs that do not focus on the main facets of soccer, but rather the storylines that the average viewer might not normally come across. ESPNFC’s, “The Toe Poke”, is a blog that calls attention to peculiar stories in the game of soccer that are amusing, strange, and inspiring
One of the most recent posts details how at a Danish League match between FC Copenhagen and Hobro IK, some local Hobro fans experienced the game from a pitch-side hot tub as snow poured down on the field in sub-zero temperatures. These kinds of posts take away from the strife of debate that many partake in when analyzing and discussing soccer. It allows both the average and religious soccer fan to understand the game in a way that is separate from the tactics and the competitiveness of the sport. As social media has grown, so have the ways that we can follow stories about soccer. Just a week ago, Jesse Lingard of Manchester United celebrated a game-winning goal versus Chelsea with a Black Panther “Wakanda Forever” reenactment. While the celebration made national and global headlines due to the movie’s prevalence, “The Toe Poke” highlighted how Lingard’s girlfriend, Jena Frumes, bought him a chain that featured Lingard’s move. A romantic, yet somewhat unusual gift, “The Toe Poke” enables its followers to stay updated with this abnormal story.
What separates this blog from others, besides its content, is that there is no need for Chris Wright, the blog’s main contributor and creator, to take any position or side on the posts. All of the content is merely to entertain and can appeal to those who are devout followers and to those who simply know the biggest names in the sports. On Friday, March 2, Adriana Garcia, another contributor, posted a story about how a Barcelona airport had to cancel expansion plans because planes could not fly over Lionel Messi’s house. This story is absurd in and of itself, but its appeal goes beyond soccer – which speaks to the lure and prevalence of the sport. The fact that Messi has so much sway and influence not just in sports culture, but in everyday life is mind-boggling. His power enables him to stunt the growth of a major international airport… and perhaps this is why this blog is so interesting to soccer fans and non-soccer fans alike.
“The Toe Poke” is a subset of the ESPNFC.com website so it is likely that a majority of its audience has navigated their way to the website to read about or watch soccer or even more simply to check scores. However, it is possible that the blog’s viewers, or desired viewers, extends beyond the lengths of adamant or casual soccer fans. Who would not be interested in reading about how Peterborough United’s players had to help shovel snow during the middle of their game that was played in a blizzard? Additionally, who would not be intrigued or inspired by a deafblind Colombian soccer fan being able to experience Barcelona’s 6-1 win by having his caretaker illustrate the game to him by moving his hands across a wooden board as the game progressed. Moreover, the devoutly religious could be captivated by a story that details how Benevento had to reschedule their match with Cagliari because the Pope was visiting the city that day. Even the most experienced of hikers who have braved Mount Everest would be impressed to know that Rafa Benitez, Newcastle’s manager, ran his team’s sub-zero temperature practice while wearing shorts. The stories are endless and evidently cross a number of genres, which ought to interest a wide range of readers – and can spark a larger conversation about the game of soccer. Personally, I believe the blog speaks to how prevalent soccer is in today’s society. Soccer has always been a global game, but it has managed to adapt as times have changed technologically and politically. With the increased use of social media, for example, soccer has found new ways to branch out with a diverse set of storylines that seemingly could attract anyone’s attention. I recommend checking out “The Toe Poke” every so often to get a good blend of soccer storylines that are intertwined with current events from around the world.