Comments? Dialogue? Find me on twitter @ciaramccormack
*Edit note: I have added Duane Rollins’ response with his blessing below. Also, people have made the point that Rollins is not a journalist, but a blogger. Regardless, people are forming opinions based on the information that he, and others like him present as researched and unbiased. Because of this, I am choosing to hold him and others to the same journalistic standard of presenting an unbiased truth.
I wrote a blog the other day, after I read an article from a journalist that I thought was somewhat troubling from a factual perspective. Women’s Professional Soccer is throwing water out of the boat right now, trying to stay alive, and the women’s game in particular in both the US and Canada is stagnant. It makes no sense to me, with approximately 4 million girls playing soccer in North America, that post college it is such a struggle to continue playing the game. The pieces are there, and development is a word that is thrown out all the time to draw kids in and charge their parents money, but the fact is, that since I graduated from high school 14 years ago, there have been minuscule changes in opportunities for women to continue to play at a high level, once they are finished college/university soccer.
In my opinion, there has to be a reason for things not moving forward in a positive direction. From what I have seen and experienced, the motivation for this stagnation is that there is a system in place, and people getting power and a pay check from things remaining in the status quo. Energy is put into protecting one’s territory instead of welcoming the challenge and uncertainty of growth.
Furthermore, there is such a pure and utter lack of transparency in our soccer system in general. Part of it, we as players, coaches and administrators within the system, must take responsibility for. Many will stand by and protect their own opportunities, instead of being a voice when someone else is wronged. The majority of the time, those who face injustice, walk away and move on to other things without saying anything, feeling silenced by an institution that feels more powerful than their small voices of truth.
Transparency allows accountability, and because of this, if we depend on anyone to report fairly and accurately, to paint the true picture that is so desperately needed, it is the journalists who tell the story.
I picked Duane Rollins article the other day about the Whitecaps and the WPS to critique. I did this because as I mentioned in my last blog (“Whitecaps, WPS and Rollins”), from my experience as a player, I felt using the Whitecaps as an authority on what the model of women’s professional soccer should like, was detrimental to the truth.
I went through Rollins’ articles from this last year that he wrote concerning women’s soccer, and what I read was a consistent distortion of the truth and “anonymous” sources used to back up many damaging assertions. These “anonymous” sources were from the Canadian Soccer Association, an institution that I believe epitomizes my assertion of powerful organizations who are more concerned with protecting their power, as individuals and as a group, instead of doing their job and moving the women’s game forward.
In fairness to Rollins, he is not the only journalist not presenting the whole story, but I’d like to use his work as an example of how the misinformation that the public is having presented as fact, is playing a role in the untruths that are being perpetuated, and stifling, moving women’s soccer forward, in a positive direction.
I appreciate Mr Rollins welcoming a dialogue, and we have opened one dialogue now. Instead of having it behind the closed doors of emails back and forth, I will post the email that I have sent to him. I will leave it up to him how he chooses to respond and what information he would like to make public.
Let me make this clear. This isn’t about slinging mud, its about a true desire to present the truth and the reality of what women’s soccer looks like on the inside, from people like myself who have experienced it. Change is not possible, without it, and in presenting the truth, I’d like to do my small part towards pushing for the change that our system is starving for.
Sent: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Thanks for reading my blog and for taking the time to send along your contact info.
With the Whitecaps women, I stand by what I said. With all due respect, you
are horribly misinformed if you believe that the Whitecaps are one of the
most committed organizations to women’s soccer and you are doing a
disservice to the truth by leading people to believe that. I gave you many
specific details in the blog how things have been over the last decade that
hopefully will allow you to reconsider making such a strong statement. I
also can give you the contact details of many of my teammates on the
Whitecaps 2011 roster, who have experienced professionalism in the women’s
game, playing in the WPS and overseas in Europe. They will also strongly
refute your assertion that the Whitecaps in any kind of way should be held
up as a model to be followed, or anyone in the organization’s opinion should
matter in terms of the direction or management of the women’s game.
I’d be more than happy for you to dig a little deeper on what’s been going
on, on the women’s side of the Whitecaps in the last few years. What I have
reported is just the tip of the iceberg, although I am sure the organization
would not be as keen to reveal those many skeletons in the closet.
To take things a step further, I admit that I have not been impressed by
your writing on Canadian women’s soccer in general over the last year in
terms of impartiality to what you are reporting. I have read articles here
and there, but spent this morning reviewing through every article that I
have been able to find that you have written in the last year on Canadian
women’s soccer. In reading through these articles, I have been reminded why
I have been particularly irked by the information that you have reported in
Through refreshing myself on your work this morning I feel warranted in my
strong reaction to your WPS/Whitecaps piece as not just an innocent
mis-informed one-off, but rather just another example in a long pattern of
erroneous “reporting” on the women’s side of the game. I put reporting in
quotations to make the point that a key component of journalism as I
understand it, is integrity and with no bias, with a clear intention to seek
the truth. In re-reading your work on Canadian women’s soccer this morning,
I feel it is something that you have failed to do on multiple occasions.
Although there were many articles filled with erroneous information from
“anonymous” and “trusted” sources, one in particular, that you wrote (February 6, 2011) titled “Morace’s demands” (click here to read) was filled such pro-CSA information, that I will have to admit that in reading it at the time, and again this morning, makes you seem
as though you are not a journalist, but rather a mouthpiece for the CSA.
I can pull it apart piece by piece if you wish to have a further discussion
on it, but for now, I will say that I’d be more than happy to hear your full
perspective on women’s soccer in Canada, and what you believe it will take
for it to be successful. From your multiple postings on twitter where I was
“@”, it seemed as though you believed that I misinterpreted you. I would
love to hear how, and look forward to dialoguing with you about it.
I want to make the final point, that this isn’t about reacting to something
“negative” being said about women’s soccer. As an athlete I think critique
is a fantastic thing, as it insinuates that someone is coming from a
position of wanting to help something reach its highest potential, and is
providing constructive information or truth that will move something towards
a positive solution. Something can’t reach its highest potential without
critique, and I think anyone involved in women’s soccer just wants the sport
to have the chance to realize that immense potential that we all see it has,
and just want the facts presented as they are.
Those are the glasses that I am seeing this all through if that helps you
understand my perspective a bit better. As someone that has lived the game
at the most personal level over the last 2 decades in this country, and seen
the nonsense that is rampant that is holding the development of the game
back, I am dedicated for the truth to be told so that things are better for
the next generation. Truth provides the opportunity for accountability,
which is crucial for growth. For that reason, I am perhaps extra sensitive
towards people such as yourself that are in a position for that truth to be
told, to do their due diligence and report fairly and accurately.
Duane Rollins response to the above, Sunday, December 11, 2011
You are entitled to your opinion about what I wrote about Morace.
However, suggesting that I’m a mouthpiece to the CSA is absurd. Yes,
one of the articles I wrote only presented the CSA’s position– I WAS
UPFRONT ABOUT THAT and the women refused to talk to “unfriendly”
sources. I’ve yet to have anyone explain to me why the the CSA didn’t
deserve to have their position presented. Since the CSA was not
talking on the record, I felt it was important to try and get their
position out by using unnamed sources so that people could see what
both sides were thinking. The primary person I was speaking to was
very high ranking and I was confident that the position was that of
the CSA BoD. Morace is a wonderful coach, but an incredibly cynical
and self-centred person in my opinion. Her behaviour in the Nigeria
game didn’t do much to change my position, nor did the fact that she
abandoned her players months away from Olympic qualifying after they
had gone to the wall for her. .
I report on women’s soccer the exact same way that I report on men’s
— if there is something that, in my opinion, deserves to be
challenged or criticised then I will speak up. Would it not be
condescending to the women if I were to only write positive things and
to allow their positions to go unchallenged?
I am absolutely going to pursue this and I would appreciate your
assistance. The Whitecaps will have a chance to respond and the club’s
views will be reported. It would be unfair — and potentially
actionable — for me to approach this any other way.
I just got home after playing all day so I’m far too tired to really
look at what you’ve given me tonight, but I will be in touch tomorrow.