Knight: A comment on comments - The Globe and Mail

Ben Knight

MLS commissioner Don Garber is tip-toeing north of the border, folks, kicking the tires of potential television deals should his league expand to Montreal and/or Vancouver for 2011.

Given the league's modest broadcast incomes stateside, and that three different Canadian networks are already televising Toronto FC matches, TV money could quickly pose a compelling case for the Impact and Whitecaps to move it on up.

Ah, but when you create surplus somewhere, you often end up with a deficit somewhere else. Canadian soccer talent? It's possible there may not be enough of it to go around. But that should change over time. The steady demands of three domestic MLS sides all but guarantee it.
I want to narrow the focus, away from soccer players … to soccer writers.

This nation needs more.

Sportswriting is a different animal in the Internet age. Space and time restrictions don't really exist. And anyone, anywhere, can get their stuff published. The rise of Toronto FC has given us a network of bustling fan sites, filled with raw opinion – and frequent bursts of thought-provoking writing.

Right now, you're reading a guy who walked away from journalism completely back in 1986. Just a year out of J-school, and exasperated with the internal politics and hiring practices of a famous national broadcast network that begins and ends with the same letter, and has a different letter in the middle, Citizen Yours Truly packed in the profession completely.

Then, twelve years later, I felt there was a need for someone to cover an eleven-team Ontario Jr. A lacrosse league – from all eleven cities. Nobody paid me to do this. I was out there anyway, and decided I wanted to write about it. A decade later, here we all are.

There's no one route. No proven way to do it. You go, you see, you feel, you believe – you write.

One of the things I love most about On Soccer is the comments section. I never bought the idea that journalists know best. A story or column or blog item should always be the jumping-off point for a larger, broader conversation. I don't want you to come here to know what I think – but rather what everybody thinks.

Once MLS has three Canadian teams, once Canada does (or doesn't) qualify for World Cup 2010, there is going to be a crying need for exciting new soccer voices in this country. Nobody knows who those people are going to be (although I have a couple of strong hunches). Anyone who cares about this game – and has a good idea and a worthy turn of phrase – needs to be writing about it now.

I invite and welcome you all to the On Soccer comments section. Consider this your own little corner of a famous and distinguished national newspaper.

If I scribble a note about something you're passionate about, share that passion. Join the discussion. Hone your chops. Some of you are going to become the new soccer voices of Montreal and Vancouver – or anywhere, because the Internet doesn't discriminate on the basis of geography.
Nobody gets rich doing this, but we're all richer for everyone's combined efforts.

The way to become a soccer writer today is simply say “I'm a soccer writer” – and write as much and as well and as hard and as often as you possibly can.

I want to turn the comments section into the staging ground for the next generation of exciting, passionate, thoughtful, brilliant writers, who will tell the story of Canadian soccer for decades to come. Some of you are already here, but I know there will be many, many more.

Keep it on topic, but when your topic comes up, let loose. There ain't a red cent in it for anyone, but pouring your heart out for a knowledgable national audience is a fine place to start.

First question: Exactly how many Canadian MLS teams should there be?

Onward!