Today former Fanhouse soccer editor and writer Brian Straus announced over Twitter that he had accepted Sport News' offer to become the 125-year-old publication's first ever soccer writer. Straus sat down with the Brotherly Game's managing editor, Scott Kessler, to discuss the move to Sporting News.
Scott Kessler: Brian, how does it feel to make history by becoming with one of the nation's oldest sports publications?
Brian Straus: One of the oldest? [laughs] If there's one older than it I'd to know about it. It's a great thing for the sport. It's not about me. It's about all of us, who in our own ways, have been trying to build this sport in whatever way we can. I've been a player my whole life, I've been a coach and I even interned at DC United during its first season. I've now been writing about the sport for 13 years and as someone who cares deeply about the game and is now on is on the media side of things, to have a very venerable, tradition, old school media outlet come around, realize and decide that American soccer, and soccer, is worth covering that's massive for the sport. We always talk about trying to get traditional media; the tv editors, the newspaper editors, ESPN , all these kind of people, and to have one of them ante up and invest in soccer, it's a sign of growth and great news.
The rest of the interview after the jump.
SK: When Sporting News purchased Fanhouse from AOL, most of Fanhouse's employees were laid off - including you. Shortly thereafter, Sporting News announced, over Twitter, that it intended to cover soccer. What made them change their mind and come back to you?
BS: I don't know. I think a lot of it has to with the fact that we started to gain some traction with what we were doing at Fanhouse. I started writing at Fanhouse in the spring of '09 and went fulltime for them last year. I think we really had started to get some momentum going with the coverage. Sporting News, as part of their expansion, which included the acquisition of Fanhouse and broadening their sports coverage, I guess they decided the stuff we were doing at Fanhouse was worth carrying on. Scott Ridge, who was the Editor-in-Chief of Fanhouse, and who hired me, is also going to be at Sporting News so there's going to be some continuation there. It's an amazing release to be able to continue what we that we started to do at AOL.
SK: What is it going to be like moving from Fanhouse to Sporting News? IS there going to be a different editorial approach? Will you still be your own editor?
BS: I'm happy I won't be my own editor. That was exhausting. I came through the Washington Post, that's where I got started, and I was used to having editors and people to answer to. I left soccer coverage for a few years and went to a magazine where I covered something else for a few years and had a great editor there. It's tough to do both jobs, it's tough to be the manager and also drive the coverage and buy into the philosophy. It's very hard to edit yourself. I'm assuming that I'll have that kind of guidance at Sporting News. The talent and experience there is second-to-none. It'll be nice to be part of a team instead of doing a lot on my own, which is what I did at AOL because Fanhouse was growing so quickly. There was so much going on there but I'm flattered that they believed that I could do it on my own. It's pretty tiring, though. What the coverage role will consist of? It's something that is going to get worked out. They're going to focus on American soccer, which is why I want to be a part of it. Anyone who has read my stuff knows that I'm a believer in the fact that we have as much right to this game as any other country on earth. I hope that people in this country recognize that and support the US game, MLS, the national team and stop looking to Europe for validation. Sporting News getting into American soccer is really gratifying.
SK: Is there any indication that Sporting News will hire fellow soccer writers to form a staff, which would be a bit different from Fanhouse's approach?
BS: There's no indication of that. I'm guessing that I'll have editor that will be responsible for a couple of other of sports. One editor is normally responsible for two or three sports. Perhaps the NBA editor would also be assigned to soccer coverage and therefore me. Beyond me, after me, who knows. I'm just thrilled that I have a job and I'll do my best to for Sporting News to validate their faith in me and their decision to cover soccer.
SK: Can you discuss what other publications were contacting you about joining their ranks? You've mentioned over Twitter that there were one or two other places you could have gone.
BS: That was one of the most gratifying things about the process. Getting laid off sucks. It was great to have so many people drop me a line and give me their support or said, "hey I've got the number of this guy give him a call." Advice, council, leads, all kinds of people coming out to help, it speaks to how much people want to see this sport grow. That people recognize we need media and people covering the game to help out. When Fanhouse was bought out, that was an AOL decision and Sporting News had to do what it had to do to expand, it was AOL's decision to pull the plug on it. When the sport lost AOL coverage, the fact that Sporting News comes in and picks it back up its great. The fact that so many people rallied to offer their support and give ideas to where I could go next shows what kind of community we have. I got a lot of congratulations from other writers, much bigger names than me in American soccer journalism that reach out and said kind words to me.