If it sounds like nonsense, well, that’s the point. Looking at Yahoo!’s soccer blog The Dirty Tackle you’ll find lots of it. In fact, it’s one of the pillars it stands by. The motto just above the blog’s logo reads “Football. Culture. Nonsense.”
Consider it a soccer blog version of The Onion, lampooning the sport when it takes itself too seriously, or bringing levity to situations that world renowned soccer players get themselves into. In the face of the mightiest sport in the world, The Dirty Tackle is a much needed counterbalance.
Its main appeal is finding oddball stories throughout the soccer world. It’s a cornucopia of missed tackles, footballers behaving badly, and some of the best goals the sport has to offer. In a sense, it’s a blog that loves the sport for its inherent beauty, and all the dysfunctional moments that are ever present in the day-to-day proceedings.
Much of that comedic exposition on soccer is due to its head writer and editor Brooks Peck. We asked Mr. Peck a few questions about the blog's start, the process of developing the stories, and what it means to not take the game quite so seriously.
How long have you been writing for the Dirty Tackle, and how did you get started?
My cousin, Carter Daly, and I started Dirty Tackle as an independent blog in the fall of 2008. We had both written for WorldCupBlog.org prior to that and we built up a small following, so we decided to do our own thing and expand our focus. We got more and more readers pretty quick and in December of 2009, we sold it to Yahoo! since they were looking to add a soccer blog ahead of the 2010 World Cup. I stayed on as editor and primary writer and I've been there since.
How do you go about creating your daily posts?
Well, we have a few regular features like the Dirty Tackle of the Day videos and our rotation of nonsensical bits like Dimitar Berbatov is...The Continental, Artur Boruc's Friday Rage List, the DT Exclusive transcripts and Future News, so I look for stories of the day that could be the basis for those types of posts. Beyond that, I really just look for anything I can have some fun with and make a joke about or matters that are particularly unusual that haven't been covered by too many other outlets. Then I write each post by rubbing my face against the keyboard and voilà! A DT post has been birthed.
Have you ever had a problem with any of the players that you've written about? I did read once about Artor Boruc contacting you, or one of his associates?
Surprisingly few problems, actually. When we made the move to Yahoo and the larger audience and massive platform that came with it, I was a little bit wary of how some of our stuff would be received. But any soldiers of fortune who have been hired to kill me have so far failed. Artur Boruc's cousin/webmaster did contact us over Twitter and was less than pleased with the Rage Lists, but I explained to him that we were fans of Artur's and he later said that he showed Artur the site and Artur enjoyed it and might one day share with us what actually annoys him.
The only other situation that's gotten back to me was when David Beckham/David Beckham's management didn't appreciate a post I did about his Jesus tattoo, which he explained was a representation of himself. Apparently they didn't want this pointed out, especially not by Yahoo, which employed David briefly in a promotional capacity. Aside from that, the response from players has been overwhelming good and by that I mean nonexistent.
Have you ever regretted any posts? Ever have that peculiar feeling of apprehension when you pushed the publish button on any story you've done?
Nothing specific comes to mind -- probably because I've successfully repressed all memory of them. But sometimes I'll publish something and instantly realize, "Wow, that's just not as funny as I thought it was 0.8 seconds ago." That's not a good feeling.
This isn't a direct comparison, but would you consider yourself something akin to Comedy Central's The Daily Show? In a sense that you bring humor to subject matter that sometimes is deemed way too serious in some circles. After all, these are just grown men kicking balls into nets and paid millions of dollars for it. Or, at least do you see a bigger purpose to your blog than just writing a witty joke? And if it is just that, have you seen a reaction from fans that might look at it in a bigger light?
I don't know how to respond to the Daily Show comparison while still sounding modest, but trying to get people to not take the game quite so seriously all the time is a part of the motivation behind the blog. Sports in general are taken very seriously, but football especially. As much as I love it and take it far too seriously myself sometimes (OK, a lot of times), I think it's important to keep it in perspective and have some fun without wishing cancer on each other's families because we support different teams.
Whether there's a greater purpose for the blog, well, it is just a football blog. But it is extremely gratifying when people say how much they enjoy it or look forward to certain posts or recall bits we did months or even years ago. My primary goal is just to give people something entertaining to read/watch while at work/school/somewhere else equally horrible. In other words, if I can single-handedly destroy the world's productivity, I will be very happy.
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