“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words in Letter from Birmingham, Alabama Jail in 1963. More than 50 years later, so many of us are still unable to believe them.
Since Unusual Efforts began eight months ago, we’ve seen the world continue to fracture and splinter. Perhaps the most attention has been given to the vote in the UK, where they literally voted to split themselves from Europe, and the US, where they essentially voted to build a wall. But there are so many other divides: between refugees and residents, between men and women (and, in turn, another divide set up by those who believe there are merely two choices, and those choices are assigned when one comes out of the womb) and, still, between blacks and whites.
It feels like these divides will only get deeper. In the United States, we’re already sensing an imminent crackdown in press freedoms. We fear the media will be reduced to an ever-present stream of propaganda, as it already is in so many countries throughout the world. It will be us vs. them, with the thems out to get the us, the us a virtuous and good society in the process of being attacked for no reason other than how virtuous and good it is. Injustice will become an insignificant lie told by the other side.
And what, you might wonder, can a soccer site do about all this?
Unusual Efforts can stand against it. We write about soccer, sure, but we also write about discrimination and gender and sexual violence. And when we write about tactics and the love of a club and the wonder that is a player’s hair, we’re still fighting against injustice. Every story is slap in the face, a new rude awaking, in a culture that still lifts up men as the only voices worthy to report on soccer.
Our existence also serves to remind us that we’re all part of King’s ‘single garment’. We seek both to boost those who want to begin a career in soccer media, and to give established writers an outlet for stories that won’t be picked up anywhere else. No one’s in this for the money (unfortunately) but the little bit we pay gives new contributors more weight behind their work, while experienced creators are generous enough to often donate their efforts to further enhance our site.
There’s no way we can take all the credit for this. Our amazing #Effortista community has helped others within it find outlets and internships, whether soccer-related or not. The support we’ve had at the beginning created a strong enough reputation that contributors can use us as a reference to springboard into gigs and jobs. Those who call themselves #Effortistas lend one another support, whether it’s promoting others’ projects or providing strength in a world that seems to want to tear so many of us down.
But we couldn’t do any of this without a strong product, from writing to art to editing to design. And such a strong product does require funding. That’s where we’re slowing down. We need to consider how often we can post while still being able to pay. We need to determine how to make a little cash. We would love sponsors. We will ask, again and again, for your patronage. And if you’re a business-ly inclined #Effortista who’s willing to give us some advice, our ears are wide open.
We are not about to give up. Our purpose remains vital: Elevate the voices that are so rarely heard in soccer media. Tell the stories that are not told. Lift one another up. Build this community that, simply by finding one another through soccer, has already learned about those threats to justice that tug at others’ lives. The wisdom and experience and insight running through these threads that we’ve created strengthens us all.
We will be back February 1. Until then, we will be doing all that we can to ensure we remain. We are determined to get bigger, better, and more bad-asser. It is our way of standing together to fight against the injustice that threatens us all.
PS – if you’re an #Effortista writer with a story in the works (or an idea for a story!), please get in touch with Kirsten so we can plan out the February schedule. Artists, expect a revised spreadsheet by the end of the week.