The 11 celebrates its first anniversary… a little late

I didn’t realize that The 11 had been in existence for over a year until I cracked open my analytics pages and realized I had a new section: The top “Older Than 1 Year” posts.

So, the editor missed the site’s first birthday.

The 11 launched on November 8, based out of a sort-of pledge I had made to myself a in the wake of a post-World Cup column I had written for the Sun chain. (That column is here). I wanted to focus more energy on covering Canadian players. I didn’t want to be yet another Canadian journalist who acts as a far-off EPL pundit. I wanted to be part of a cultural shift where the sports news would show the Canada highlights ahead of the latest England game.

And, I have to say that my former employers were very supportive. Even before that column, I was allowed to take a lot of time away from my page editing job to cover Toronto FC, MLS and do a lot of great interviews. From Teal Bunbury while he was still at the University of Akron to a conference call with the Hoilett brothers and their parents. And there were some great people in that department — and are still there today — who are more passionate about the game than I think you will find at most news organizations in Canada.

But, soon after that World Cup of 2010, I left the chain and the cubicle in Toronto. I got an opportunity to edit a magazine in a city I love. And, as passionate as I can be about the newspaper biz, magazines are where my heart truly lies. (And, I don’t often allow my separate world to cross — heck, I’ve even got multiple Twitter handles — go to avenueedmonton.com to see what I do during the day). I think the only reason I hemmed and hawed about the move at all was because of my love for the game and the chance that I might not be around it as much.

Fat chance.

Within a month of the move, TeamWork Press (another company we administer that links stringers with editors) launched The11.ca, and here we are.

I really don’t care if you want to call The 11 a blog or an online magazine or whatever. But, if you didn’t know, The 11 is a collection of professional journalists, who cover Canadian teams and players. We have covered MLS, national teams, Canadian in Europe, Canadian in Asia and indoor soccer, as well. And, all of the writers are paid for their work — which, unfortunately, in this day and age of free content, I feel I need to mention. I was speaking to an editing class at Grant MacEwan University last week, and I had passed on the advice of not devaluing themselves by doing things for free. I want to practise what I preach.

In journalism, my belief is you get what you pay for. And I don’t want The 11 to be a contributor to the devaluation of journalism.

So, here’s a thank you to all of the writers whose work has appeared in The 11 this year (in alphabetical order):

Travis Clark
Randy Davis
Gavin Day
Aman Dhanoa
David DiCenzo
Heather Engel
Laurence Heinen
Greg Hutton
Kurtis Larson
Perry Lefko
Jon Marks
Larry Milson
Derrick Newman
Mark Polishuk
Vijay Setlur
Mike Wyman

And, I need to mention the awesome work of our designer, mPowered Webs (check it out here).

We’ve developed some exciting partnerships over the past year. We have received some support from some great sponsors.

I’m happy that I can provide FC Edmonton content not just through the site, but in my role as the colour commentator for the club’s webcasts and radio on the TEAM 1260. I have the pleasure of working with the CBC’s Gareth Hampshire, who does fantastic play-by-play, and a dedicated production team. It’s a pleasure to head to the booth to do gamesAnd make sure to pick up Inside Soccer on a regular basis; I contribute to it regularly.

Our goal has been to cover soccer across Canada. It’s not just about Toronto FC or the Whitecaps. It’s not just about MLS. It can be Calgary United FC, or a young prospect from Prince Edward Island. It can be about Canada’s preparations for the Women’s World Cup or the politics of the Canadian Soccer Association.

I’m always excited to hear from readers. Let me know what you think we could do better. I can think of a few things; I’d like our Whitecaps coverage to be beefed up; I’d want to do a little more in places like Ottawa and Winnipeg.

I know it’s not super-easy to leave comments on the site. That’s intentional. I have always been uncomfortable with anonymous posts. If you have something to say, don’t be afraid to put a name behind it. No one should be afraid to put a name to a well-informed opinion. And, the system helps us prevent hundreds of porn-spouting spammers from invading the site.

I love it when people disagree with me.

(I also love it when people advertise… just a hint).

We’ve had battles with hackers, spammers and such, but it’s been worth it.

Looking forward to another year. Or, that is, another year minus three days.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.