Unusual Efforts is not just a site about soccer. Unusual Efforts is a political act.
Every time a woman sits down to write, it’s an act against a political system that’s been in place for centuries. When a woman produces a piece of art, she’s rebelling against the norms we see in every history book we’ve poured over in school. Every time we create, it becomes a protest against a world in which we are told to sit down, shut up, play nice and look beautiful.
And when the individual laboring over that blank piece of paper isn’t white, isn’t straight, is transgender, is disabled, or doesn’t identify as one of the two genders the vast majority of this world assigns at birth, the struggle to make their voice heard isn’t just doubled. It’s magnified by a power that those of us with privilege can’t even comprehend.
As someone whose life has been rife with privilege, I’m not able to speak for a vast swath of the #Effortista community. What I can do, as a co-founder and editor-in-chief, is provide a safe space to feature their work. I can do my very best, when editing, not to alter their meanings so that it’s their worldview, not mine, that shines through in the end. I can continue to reach out to those whose voices have been marginalized, not only to make sure their work is featured on the site but to seek their help in establishing the future of Unusual Efforts.
We’re thrilled to be the site that’s published stories on homophobia, sexual assault, ableism and national identity – particularly when other outlets are too afraid to touch these subjects. But your words, your art do not need to have a political bent or a slant on social issues to be featured on Unusual Efforts. A piece on tactics, a player profile, an ode to a player’s hair…each of these are a way of saying “I’m here. I matter. My voice is just as important as that of the man that normally tells you how to think and feel and imagine soccer.”
The world is getting uglier, my friends. We saw it in June. We saw it this week. But we see it a thousand times on a thousand different days. We see the women and children turned away by countries refusing to admit refugees. We see women being raped and assaulted by those who believe they’re merely pawns in an ongoing war. We see laws passed denying trans persons the right to exist. We see black people killed with their hands raised. We see non-binary people become the butt of jokes to those who refuse to believe their lived experience. We see accents mocked, religious traditions mocked, feminine voices mocked, excess weight mocked, slanted eyes mocked, birth defects mocked, brown skin mocked, love mocked. It’s death by a bullet or death by a thousand tiny cuts.
No one person can change this world on their own. That’s why we’re so thrilled that in the seven months we’ve been live, we’ve already fostered such a fantastic community of #Effortistas and supporters. In the coming weeks we’ll be looking for ways of strengthening that community and amplifying its voice – and if you have ideas, we’re all ears. We are here to change soccer media, sure, but this community is also here to lend a hand, offer a shoulder, give each other a boost. We are here to get loud.
Your voice is a revolution. Never think this is just about soccer.