Why I’ve been hesitant to criticize Greater Western Sydney
For the past month or two, one of the Australian sport clubs I’ve talked most about via instant messenger services and e-mail, on the phone with a few acquaintances and in person with anyone who will listen to me is Greater Western Sydney. I’ve talked about their web strategy, their Twitter strategy, their off line engagement strategy, how they’ve reached out to Canberra, their team colours (or color if you’re American like me) and team name, their Facebook strategy.
I just haven’t blogged much about it beyond GWS Giants web traffic performance and Fundamental problems in the GWS Giants fanbase?. I’ve been intending to write a chapter on them for my dissertation. (I just haven’t been able to find the motivation to do that.) I’ve had a few conversations about why I’m not doing the blogging thing given all my obvious issues. The reasons are many: I might like the AFL to hire me when I graduate and I’d really rather not piss them off by being highly critical of their engagement strategies. (This was countered with: But what about academic honesty? Isn’t that inherently dishonest not to publish results because they are unfavorable? I’m not even sure how to answer that. True but not right?) I’ve argued that I would rather be some what clinical and have as much data as possible to support my conclusions. (I honestly haven’t done much research about the market implications of jersey color selection and the sale of merchandise/size of a fandom. ) I’ve argued that I can really only tell things three ways: Glowing praise, neutral/dispassionately with data to support my possibly unfavorable conclusions, tactless and attacking. Given my issues, I was stuck on the third one as I just don’t feel constitutionally able to set aside what I see as some major fail. I’ve also argued that I’ve been trying to get a hold of Greater Western Sydney to provide context for their actions so I can be more fair. (I’ve called several times. I’ve e-mailed a number of times. I’ve even used their feedback form. I’ve never heard back.) I’ve also argued that the one time that I did get to meet with GWS people, my advice seemed to be summarily ignored and a promised follow up never happened. I was later told by third parties that the GWS people I met with were not interested in numbers, didn’t have enough of a grasp of social media to understand what I was talking about… oh and yeah, one of the people I met wanted to do a PhD in a similar area as me. Thus, providing GWS with additional data and analysis that would fall on deaf ears? Not interested in it. I’d rather have my private discussions. I’ve also been avoiding blogging about the GWS Giants because my department has a relationship with them. I don’t want to be critical of their social media performance because I don’t want to spoil any potentially good work that my department may do with them. That would not only hurt my relationship with the GWS Giants and the AFL, but with my department.
I’ve also hesitated because I feel like I’m at a disadvantage. I’m an American who has been in Australia all of 9 months. I only started researching the AFL about a year ago. I’m a female operating in what I see as a traditionally male dominated space. Whine whine whine. In talking to some people who haven’t read my blog and seen the research I do and who don’t understand social media, I feel like this puts me at a disadvantage because who is this pushy American female who comes in and tries to tell Australians about their national game?
To a degree, I sometimes feel goaded into speaking my mind (even if I don’t actually post). Several people have told me to ignore my issues and insecurities and go for it. I’ve done that in the past. I’ve lived to regret it. There are certain people you don’t criticize in public because the consequences are that bad. There are certain people you avoid criticizing in private as you don’t want it to get back to them. I always fear when I am goaded into things, that I won’t have any support or that having promised support will cost people and I hate seeing people punished because of me. It makes me hesitant to do so.
The reasons why I don’t criticize Greater Western Sydney are similar to why I don’t criticize other sport teams and athletes. These reasons are why I tend to post tables full of data and dissertation chapter type material, and material where there largely appears to be a positive takeaway (or possibly funny, if I can write that post on Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley.). Is this hesitancy good for my research? I don’t know. By not criticizing, I could gain access to people and insight I might not otherwise. If I do, the research could be better.
There are no easy answers and I’ve yet to get over myself.