Transparency Versus Progress (Part 1)

Post it or Plug it

When people behind soccer social accounts, perhaps in a quest to seem more knowledgable than they are, tease “big info” without any supporting information, it compounds a problem of people being hyped-up for information, then let down by a perceived lack of progress or “setback” when none really existed. For example “Big announcement tomorrow,” “I’ve been hearing rumors…”, etc. It’s a fan blog equivelent of an evening news promo: “Something in your house is dangerous — find out what at 10.” They contribute to perpetuating the same things they complain about. The echo chamber of others hop on, making it seem more legitimate and hype-worthy — some now acting out of FoMO to also seem like they know what’s going on. Meanwhile, the casual fans just get excited by it all, then bummed later.

Our ask of those people: Please post it or plug it.

If your goal is to help move soccer forward in Austin (but applicable to any market really), ask yourself if you are serving that or serving yourself with “teases”? If you really are privy to news or an announcement, the more constructive thing to do would be to have your article or social posts ready to go once the news actually drops. We of all organizations know that sometimes you can’t disclose a source of information or all the specific details, but that’s much different than parroting something without making some attempt to validate it or understand it before posting.

Use Case Scenario

A great example of this played out this week online. This is what we think happened to the best we can piece together:

  • KXAN was doing a story on soccer in Austin. They are the local NBC affiliate.
  • They reached out to some local soccer fans. One of these fans then started reaching out to other soccer groups and fans trying to find out more information and interpreting the KXAN outreach as a sign of an impending “big announcement”.
  • These other groups and fans then started teasing a “big announcement,” based on the first rumor fan, not having any real information themselves.
  • USL teasing an announcement the same day that would later become adding Fresno as a market (not bringing Austin back online) compounded things.
  • Echo. Rinse. Repeat.

We do recognize that the lack of information makes people starved for any kind of update — contributing to these kinds of activites.

When in doubt: Just ask us!

Here’s what happened from the MLSinATX team’s side:

  • Got an inquiry from a fan contacted by KXAN
  • Asked for information to help add context, quantify and validate the information. Even requesting they point the person who contacted them to us so we could better vet the information.
  • Fan acted like they were holding on to the identity of Banksy or something, instead of helping broker a more productive and informed story.
  • We talked to our contacts with various, known, credible, Austin soccer stakeholders and journalists for information. All had gotten wind of the “big announcement” something, but no one had a source nor could verify there was anything TO be announced.
  • We didn’t pursue any further other than to address we’d heard it too.
  • The author of the article saw the above tweet and added a fun tease to the top of the article. Then later, inaccurately updated the article to cite MLS in Austin as the source.🤦‍♀️
Orignal copy of the article on left. Revised copy on right. The story was later revised and a correction added.
  • So effectively, KXAN was unknowingly the source of the rumor they cited. 
    To their credit, KXAN was very responsive. They don’t want to become a victim to circular attribution either and updated the article . We also provided direct contact information so they can get more accurate information for Austin and soccer related coverage from us in the future.

We indirectly became part of a use-case we’re trying to avoid, nonetheless it could have been easily avoided. The net result is that Austin soccer chalks up another public incident of not having its act together.

Hopefully a lot of lessons were learned today by this.

This was originally a one-part article, ironically on the challenges to inform and update the community while adding context to why sometimes things need to stay hush-hush. Then: “Big Announcement”-gate above happened.

Keep Reading: “Transparency Versus Progress” Part 2.

Thanks to everyone for their support!

If you found this article interesting, please click the little heart to help other local soccer fans find it. Click the “follow” button to keep up with the latest MLS in Austin stories on Medium.

Subscribe for Email Updates & Become a Member | Contact Us 
Like Us on Facebook | Follow Us on Twitter | Follow Us on Instagram