The Allrounder

by Bruce Berglund



My football experiences have been a bit different from those of Alamanac readers.


First, I grew up playing and watching gridiron. Those of you who’ve endured training in the sweltering heat can imagine how much worse it would be when wearing the hard-plastic helmet and shoulder pads of American football.


The second difference is that my playing years took place in the frigid northern state of Minnesota. The season began in the heat of late summer and then finished in the freezing sleet and snow of early winter. One year, the slate of games over Halloween weekend was cancelled due to three feet of snow.


My playing days ended thirty years ago. I continued participating as a registered referee (and proved to be far better at that than I was as a player).  But graduate studies, and then a new career as an academic and a new family led me to hang up the referee’s stripes.


My academic work brought me to new countries and put me in contact with people from around the world. I discovered new sports, new clubs, and new sports writers. About three years ago, I discovered the Almanac.  As host of the podcast new Books in Sports, I’ve interviewed John Harms and regular Alamanackers Barry Nicholls, Phil Dimitriadis, and Hannah Kuhar.


One thing in particular that I’ve learned from the Almanac is that our experiences as fans, across the expanse of the Pacific, have a lot in common.  Yes, there are differences.  If you used the word “footy” with an American football fan, you’d get laughed at, while if I asked an Aussie fan which team she “rooted for,” I’d probably get clobbered.  But we share the experiences of trading player cards, collecting game programmes, opening the cherished team shirt on Christmas, watching the game on television with the dads and uncles and then going outside to play with the other kids, mimicking the announcer’s voice to narrate our own moments of greatness.


The work that I’ve been doing with the podcast New Books in Sports is based on the awareness that fans around the world are linked by shared experiences and emotions—as well as common complaints. Andrew Starkie’s piece from the start of the current season is an example.  Substitute AFL with NFL or EPL, and the fan’s lament is the same.


Right now, I’m working with writers from different countries on an online journal for fans interested in these common threads of global sport. John Harms will write an occasional piece for us. He asked if he can write about American sports, which he’s come to love through reading the great American sports journalists. I look forward to reading what he has to say. The views we hold of our own sports can only be sharpened by the observations of appreciative, knowledgeable outsiders.


I’m writing here in the Alamanac to appeal—shamelessly—for your financial support in getting the journal started.  We are running a crowd-funding campaign on the site The key to a successful crowd-funding campaign is to bring your own crowd, who are willing to donate $25, $50, or even $100. We don’t need big donors (although that would be nice). We just need a lot of donors. I’ve come to the Alamanackers to find some.


The Alamanac is a unique community. We have nothing like it in the States: a place where fans of all teams contribute their writing in mutual appreciation, without partisan vulgarity. I know from reading the posts and comments that you’ll appreciate the approach we’re going to take to sport.  The writers for The Allrounder—like the writers and readers of the Almanac—know that there’s more to sport than what happens on the field.


We won’t claim to be a replacement for your regular sports media site.  Fans will always be drawn to their club and its stories. But there is a whole world of sport beyond the colors we’ve worn since we were kids. The Allrounder will explore that broader world. I ask you to be one of our backers—and then one of our readers.



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