How I learned to stop thinking and hate Reading FC

You don’t need a media ecologist to tell you that one of the most delightful aspects of the digital age is the way we connect globally based on interests rather than because someone lives right next door to us.

As a result, in soccer, as in all other pursuits, we find stronger ways to connect with others who are as dedicated as are we (witness Nashville SC’s Ghanaian supporters group as an example), and we often make ourselves more dedicated as a result. We forge fanship and expertise with people we wouldn’t have even met fifty years ago, and we build identities and groups virtually rather than geographically.

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Whenever I think of this, as a fan or as someone who dabbles in media ecology in my day job, I tend to think in the positive terms of joining together with others. While there are likely more examples these days of just the opposite—of how we create fragmented communities that lend themselves to different knowledge (even conspiratorial knowledge is knowledge)—I have almost always thought about this in terms of “community.” Hence, while fans of the Premier League in middle Tennessee have had a Facebook forum to discuss the league regardless of their team affiliation, the banter there serves to highlight what is shared rather than what is different. It brings us together, emphasizing one identity while sublimating another.

This week, however, I’ve been prompted to think about some of the ways the divisions of digital media might also be seen in a positive light.

My friend (and editor) Ben Wright took to twitter this week to comment very briefly on the proposed transfer of Los Angeles FC winger Diego Rossi to Reading FC (the deal ultimately fell apart). Ben made this very sober observation:

While I absolutely do not keep up with the number of responses Ben gets to his tweets (and I’m honestly too old to care), I know that this was a… popular one. Popular, not because it brought in a reasonable discussion of the merits and strengths of different leagues (aside: I’m more than happy to talk to anyone about comparing the current quality of MLS to Championship League, Liga MX, etc), but because it brought Reading fans from around the world out of the woodwork to digitally smack Ben around with such brilliant plays on words as “More like Ben Wrong. Am I right?

While I could never tell from the tone whether people were actually pissed at Ben or were just having a bit of fun (weird-ass British senses of humor always lead me astray), I began to delight in each response Ben shared publicly or in our private group chat. I like the way a group identity can be formed not just in terms of what one supports (in our case Nashville SC). I mean, in some ways, we are the anti-FC Cincinnati, right? 

I guess what I want to say is this: while Reading should have nothing to do with our identity at Speedway Soccer, because Ben posted on his own twitter account with the Broadway Sports background, I think he—and the entire gang—should just go ahead and take this.  We here at Speedway Soccer are staking a claim (at least I am; Ben may be worried).

@#$@!#$ Reading.

NOTE: The views expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Broadway Sports Media as a whole.

Author: John Sloopgrew up in Asheville, NC, and after forays to Georgia and Iowa, found his way to Nashville over 25 years ago. On a trip to Portland, Oregon, 15 years ago, he watched the (then) USL Portland Timbers youth squad play one afternoon and fell completely and totally in love with soccer, to the detriment of his love of all other sports. In addition to thinking, writing, watching, and talking about soccer, Sloop teaches media and rhetoric at Vanderbilt. He is currently serving as the Chair of the Board of the Belcourt Theater and is part of the team that runs Tenx9 Nashville, a monthly story telling event.

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