The Rising Sun May Set, but Life Football Goes On
Some of you have probably already guessed what has happened to JSoccer.com, based on the clues that you already have at your fingertips (or on your desktop) -- the simplistic graphics, the outdated cultural references, the longwinded syntax of the sentences, and so on. Yes indeed, the person who is writing this article is NOT Alan Gibson, the owner, founder and operator of JSoccer.com. Rest assured, Alan is still the driving force behind JSoccer -- both the magazine AND the website -- but after lengthy discussions and a period of several months to prepare the groundwork, Alan has graciously welcomed me to join the JSoccer fold, to contribute information to the website and help develop its online presence. I hope that this collaboration will help JSoccer expand its reach and provide a broader range of information on the J.League and Japanese football to English-speaking fans worldwide.
For starters, I should probably introduce myself to those who have not yet "met" me online. My name is Ken Matsushima, and for the first two decades of the J.League's existence I operated the Rising Sun News website -- the first Internet site to provide comprehensive information on the J.League, in English. The Rising Sun News published its first article on the J.League in January 1999, and over a period of roughly 15 years, it served as both a "soccer blog" -- with reports and opinion articles on Japanese football -- and an archive of background information about J.League clubs, players, the history of the Japan National Team, the amateur and semiprofessional leagues, and much more.
In 2014, shortly after the World Cup in Brazil, the Rising Sun News closed its doors forever. There were a multitude of reasons why I was no longer able to operate the site, most of which were personal or organizational, and which do not merit any further discussion. Sadly, though, this meant that people could no longer access the the information that The Rising Sun News had provided for a decade and a half. When I first launched the Rising Sun News, it was essentially the only source of J.League information in English (Indeed, in those early years I often got e-mail from people who thought it was the J.League's official website). That situation changed dramatically over the years. Today, there are dozens of high-quality J.League-related blogs to be found, not only in English, but in French, Spanish, Portuguese and more. Those who want to keep up on news about their favourite teams, and read about (or listen to) the exploits of Japanese players can find many websites and blogs dedicated to the topics.
However, in the two years since the Rising Sun News signed off for the final time, no other website has compiled a full record of the J.League's history, or provided background information on teams and players. When Wikipedia started to get in on the act, with historical articles on sports teams and players, it briefly seemed that this function would be taken over by the Internet's "universal information source". Unfortunately, the operators of Wikepedia have adopted new standards that limit the value of the information Wikipedia offers. These days, a Wiki article on your average J.League team reads like someone's high school term paper, with footnotes after every sentence, a lot of names, places, stats and citations but virtually no excitement or colour at all.
For example, an article about Shunsuke Nakamura will contain extensive details on the clubs he played for, the dates and cash value of key transfers, significant titles won and milestone goals. However, there is no assessment of what type of player Nakamura is, no discussion of his very quiet personality and desire to keep his private life private, and certainly no discussion of the remarkable things the veteran set piece specialist has accomplished with his magical left boot. No stories about how he once hooked a 30-meter free kick through a single open window on a city bus, as it drove at 30kph through a busy intersection, or how he knocked the bride-and-groom ornament off a wedding cake with a 22-meter free kick, without leaving a single mark on the sugary frosting. You won't even learn that Gordon Strachan, the former Glasgow Celtic manager, once boasted that "Nakamura could open a tin of beans with his left foot". Today, Wikipedia is all about "fact-checking". The opinions, tall tales, game accounts, nicknames, rumours and other scuttlebutt on teams, players, coaches and officials -- all the stuff that makes the Beautiful Game beautiful -- have been banished from Wikipedia in an effort to make it "more reliable".
As a result, it has become much harder for people to learn about Japanese football history -- particularly the stories, trivia and incidental information that bring that history to live. Since mid-2014, the only website/magazine that continued to provide some amount of historical information and "context" on the J.League was JSoccer.com. The founder, Alan Gibson, has been reporting on Japanese football for nearly as long as I have myself. Indeed, Alan was the first person to contribute "guest" articles to the Rising Sun News, as early as 2002. As JSoccer.com emerged with its own unique "... from the inside" perspective, I have enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship with both the JSoccer website and JSoccer Magazine.
A few months ago, I approached Alan with the idea of a more active collaboration, with the goal of providing fuller, more colourful and more detailed information on the J.League, Samurai Blue, Nadeshiko Japan, Futsal, amateur football, and more. Thanks to his generous support and assistance, I have already resurrected much of the old historical information that used to reside on the Rising Sun News. I hope you will browse through the pages that we have already restored, and stay tuned as we add more and more chapters in the history of Japanese football.
But this is only the start.
The long-term goal is to turn JSoccer.com into a hub for discussion, collaboration, and enjoyment of Japanese football, with links to and contributions from all the talented and opinionated writers who have fallen in love with Japan's version of The Beautiful Game, and who want to share their experience with people around the world. Both Alan and myself will do our part by continuing to add pages of statistical and historical information on teams, leagues and players, and by posting news articles about football-related subjects. However, in order to achieve our ambitious goals, JSoccer needs YOUR help.
If you have a blog, website or Twitter feed that discusses Japanese football or related topics, please get in touch with us by e-mail, or on the JSoccer.com Facebook page, so that we can add a link to your blog to the JSoccer links. If you dont have a blog yet, but are interested in writing about the J.League, F-League, Nadeshiko League, Japan national teams, or any related topic, then maybe now is the time to start. You can sign up to post articles on the JSoccer.com news feed, or we can even set up your own personal blog, as a subsection of JSoccer.com. If you enjoy taking photos of J.League crowds and stadiums, we will soon begin adding photo galleries for all of the stadia in Japan, and we want your contributions. If you have any experience with graphics work or website design, those skills are PARTICULARLY needed, as we work to add pages on each player and team in the entire country. Your contributions can help to make JSoccer.com and JSoccer Magazine even more valuable, as sources of information on Japanese football. So get involved. Contact me at the link below, or visit JSoccer on Facebook and find out how you can be a part of this celebration of football in Japan.