Sunday, May 24, 2015

Don't Read the Comments

Any writer, amateur or seasonal, knows the one golden rule: do not read the comments.

It is the initial advice fresh faced authors are told after they file their first piece and it is the mantra that veterans remind themselves of daily, regardless of how many years into the business.

Comments mean anarchy. For the most part (besides breach of publication policies) anyone can write anything; it is very hard for most writers to see their carefully crafted prose being torn apart by an anonymous reader who does not seem to grasp basic English grammar.

Ego aside, it is even harder for a writer to then not engage with these comments, in spite the need they may feel to defend their work, clarify a point, or just blatantly ask, “Did you read the article beyond the headline?”

It is just easier to not read the comments. Or, so this writer thought.

Recently I wrote an article for The Guardian on Shauna Hunt and her reaction to being a victim of an on-air “fuck her right in the pussy” bomb. The article was fairly straight forward, explaining why telling someone “fuck her right in the pussy” is wrong and demonstrated a broader picture of how women are often subjected to humiliation and degradation at football stadiums.

Until I actually read a few comments and realized maybe the issue wasn’t as straight forward as I though. That, despite all the advice I had been ever given, all the warnings I had been told, and all the common sense in my head, maybe there was more to my article than just my written thoughts.

So, I broke the golden rule and read the comments.

At first, like any writer, I was sickened by people’s reaction and annoyed that they did not immediately find me brilliant. But after combing through a few submissions, I started to realize that most people still did not understand the points I had made, but seemed to genuinely want to. I found there was a lot of questions asked and a lot of good discussion happening, even if I did not necessarily agree with all that was being said.

The point of the original article was to explain why “fuck her right in the pussy” is not an acceptable thing to say to anyone, ever. And, furthermore, why events like that a football stadiums make an unwelcoming atmosphere. People – both readers and those who have asked me directly – still seem to have a lot of similar questions and comments.

So, I am going to address those comments.

“Fuck” and “pussy” are just words.
They are just words, but a very big part of language is that words carrying meaning. There’s a reason why you would not say “fuck” and “pussy” in front of a three year old, because those words carry powerful significance. Semantics are important, “fuck” does not have the same connotation as “making love” or even “sex,” the same way “pussy” does not have the same connotation as “vagina.” “Fuck her right in the pussy” is deliberately to provoke because of the agreement of what those words stand for and represent. Those specific words are used because they are known to get a reaction. And that sentence is said for the sole purpose of provoking a response.  

They weren’t saying it to Shauna Hunt (or other reporters), they’re saying it to the camera.
Regardless of who their “intended audience” was, it is still a sexist, violent, and abusive comment directed at women, about women.  Just because people find it funny, does not make it any less defendable.

Men get it too and sometimes women say it.
Again, that does not make it any less disrespectful or humiliating. And, men too can be demeaned to abusive comments towards woman. Just like how women can also say sexist comments, even about their own sex.

People need to grow a thicker skin.
No, people need to learn how their language will affect others. Hunt told the men that she found their comments humiliating and offensive, and they continued to justify – and worse – defend them. All actions have consequences and just because you think it will have one consequences (having five seconds of fame while interrupting a broadcast), it may have another (violating a person’s right to feel safe and respected).

How dare someone say that on Mother’s Day to a woman!
This comment has been said a lot, as the events took place on Mother’s Day. However, it is important to not just think of women as mothers, daughters, sisters, etc.; rather, think of them as just regular ol’people. Women are beyond just the roles they play to men, a person should not be degrade because they are a human being, not because they are someone’s sister.

It was at a football stadium, isn’t it kind of expected?
That is the main problem: it is, but it shouldn’t be. People believe being in a football stadium entitles carte blanche behaviour. Whether sexist, racist, or just plain mean, it’s okay because it’s “part of the atmosphere.” We need to start changing, now. Being in a football stadium does not give up basic societal norms. A person would not yell “fuck her right in the pussy” on the bus, in a cafĂ©, or at the grocery store, why would you do it at a game? 

It was a harmless prank.
It is not harmless if a person feels threaten by what is happening. Most language used at a football match (“fuck her right in the pussy,” aside) is meant to degrade and humiliate, as that is part of the competition side of sports. However, when it also degrades and humiliates the human spirit, we need to re-examine our use of language.

I don’t know what I would do if this happened to me.
Women should not have to be apprehension about verbal abuse; but they are, and that is the problem. A football stadium should be a safe space for healthy competition, not a minefield for woman hoping that today will not be the day that are verbally abused.

This has happened to me. Thank you for talking about it.
Like most things, it takes one person to stand up and talk about an issue to get the ball rolling. As a woman, I can empathize with Shauna Hunt; as a human being, I applaud her. A person should never feel like they can’t speak out if felt degraded or humiliated, same goes for a person should never make anyone feel like they are being degraded or humiliated.

Regardless of how much we wish “fuck her right in the pussy” was nothing more than a harmless, now-colloquial saying, it’s not. It’s sexist, chauvinistic, and downright hateful towards women. This, and other phrases meant to disgrace, demean, and demoralize women need to end.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Full 15

Podcast update: it's a go.

I have been scrambling all weekend to figure out the ins-and-outs of making a podcast (research was intensively short), looking through open source recording programs, recruiting (/informing that he will be) a producer, talking to prospective guests, making a strategic plan, and coming up with a theme song.

I am still working on that last one.

Anyway, after much effort, little sleep, and tons of questions (including: would this be worth to Kickstart?*) we are ready to get started.

With that, I am pleased to introduce to you:

The Full 15

Named by the dashing Jeremy St. Louis from beIN Sports, the pod will be 15 minute chats with people in the industry telling stories that they would not normally get to.

Whether it be tales from the trenches, upcoming or side projects, personal (and probably unpopular) views, or a soliloquy about an unheard of, third division club in a low-FIFA ranking country, guests will get a chance to talk about what they want to, and not just the word-capped topic usually assigned.

Guests will included journalists, players, coaches, and those on the business side of things. Anyone I can wrangle (/trick) into coming on.

Which leads me to announce the first guest of the show: the Mussi Volanti Opinionista himself, Dov Schiavone.

Without giving too much away before the podcast, let me give you a quick introduction to Guest #1.

Dov is the Editor of Forza Italian Football and has/is contributed/ing to STV Sport, Goal, Metro UK, BBC Radio 5, AFP, and BT Sport among others (he's not answering any of my messages, so I just used his Twitter bio).

Dov and I have been all over Italy (nothing south of Napoli) to watch matches—including the likes of Udinese, Milan, Rome, Lazio, Napoli, Inter, Torino, Atalanta, we recently became certified Guinness pourers in Dublin, and one weekend, we walked from Italy to Slovenia because we legitimately had nothing better to do.

He also once seriously injured me during a Take That dance party.

Dublin in December, the man loves selfies

You can look forward to the pod being posted closer to the end of the month and then weekly; I am still sorting out the technical aspects of things and waiting on my producer before I can officially air episode one (that, and we haven’t recorded it yet).

I am grateful for everyone who expressed interest and for those who are willing to give me 15 minutes of their time, stories, and thoughts.

If you want to get in touch with the podcast or want to be a guest on a future show, please don’t hesitate to email us at:

Thanks guys, happy 2015!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Podcast

I've decided to do a weekly soccer podcast. 

Very short, 15 minutes tops, different guest every week, different topic every week, general questions, tailored questions, and (almost certainly) poor production. 

Get in touch if you're interested and can stand speaking to me for 15 minutes (plus injury time). 

I am still working on a name and a recording schedule, but there is an interest and for that I am grateful. Right now, I am looking for the pod to be therapy for people in the industry, but we will see how it evolves. 

Or, dissolves, whichevs.

Tell your friends.

 15 Minutes with a Face Like This

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The ReLaunch

Welcome to the re-launch of! Or, "The Website Formally Known as 90 Minutes of Hopp."

Apparently, some gentleman from the Ukraine stole*my old domain. I emailed him, LinkedIn'ed him, but to no avail, so I ended up with (make sure you update your bookmarks!)

But let's not dwell on that, it’s a new year and I plan to make the most of it; lots of things have been going on and not just online.

For starters, on Sunday Udinese played—quite possibly—the worst game in their 118 year history, losing 3 – 2 at home to Lazio.

On paper, it may not look that bad of a scoreline; sure, they loss at home, but at least it was a close/high scoring game, right?


I will wait while you Google a recap of the match.


Now that you know what happened, you can imagine my disgust and repulsion (and my being a little ball of sad). So, what’s a girl to do when her team destroys her and leaves her shattered?

Well, if she's this girl, she gets them forever branded onto her flesh.

Welcome to 2014, the new, and my new (and first!) ink.

Thank you to the wonderful staff at The Society of the Seven Crowns Tattoo and the amazing (and patience, and gentle, and reassuring, and talented) Robyn Lee, who worked on me and answered all of my ridiculous questions. She also had a great playlist on: YYYs, Beck, Jack White, etc. It was meant to be. 

Anyway, the original sketch, an older version of the Udinese crest :

(bonus!: I'm so white, it didn't even need to be filled in with white!) 

Halfway through the session, fun fact: it less painful than Sunday's match:

(tip!: bring your big brother along so he can photo-doc the process, thank you David!)

The crest is simple, but bold. Strong, but shapely. Plus, it points north, #aleUdin

(pre-gold border, no laurels)

And c'est fin! The final product in only about an hour:

(the border is actually gold, it looks orange because my blood started to pool and seep everywhere. OH BOY!)

And I know what you're thinking, "but Sonja! Don't you work in a corporate, business professional world? And you're really pretty!" Well, you're right (on both accounts), but don't worry, I thought of that. Behold! How my arm looks straight on:

(you can't see it! You also can't see it from the back)

In fact you can't see it unless I do this:

(arm twist!)

Thank you again Robyn Lee and Seven Crowns! And to Udinese, who constantly reminds me: Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

Oh, and guys, please don’t tell my dad.


*purchased it when my account expired

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Hi. It’s been a long time.

Anyway, today I signed up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). Not the “marathon” part of it, but the 5K run.

5K may not seem like a lot to you, but it is to me: I have never run in an organized fashion before. Oh sure, I have played sports (badly) and I’ve ran on the treadmill (badly) and I’ve even been chased by a goose once (it ended badly), but I’ve never really ran in between “START” and “FINISH” banners.

I mean, I’m not totally out of shape, I don’t break into a sweat climbing stairs or yelling at sports on TV. And, I had my first practice run today: I had less than three minutes to make it to my train and I managed to sprint from the subway, through Union at rush hour to catch it (note: I was in a skirt and Toms and I was still able to!); I am not totally useless, just sort of.

Anyway, I have decided to track my progress both for my own amusement and because hopefully my journey may inspire other people to get back on their feet.

Because that’s what this is helping me do: get back on my feet.

With that, I have named my run “SCM v. STWM” and I will be using the hashtag #speedyquick to tweet my progress. I will also be running on behalf of North York General Foundation and if you would like to sponsor me and help the hospital out, you can do so here. (Thanks in advance!)

So, about SCM v. STWM: the run is October 20th and I will be doing something everything day to prep for it. Today, it was buying shoes:

(they did not come in Little Zebra colours)

Everyone told me not to go to Nike Running, but I did and I’m glad. The employee who helped me was helpful and patient; we went through at least five pairs of shoes before we found the right one… and then the left one. She also measured my arches, how I walk, and took into account my knocked knees; my only problem now is that they have laces .* Regardless, I am pretty satisfied with my purchase, but I still have 30 days to return them just in case.

Tomorrow will be the purchase of socks. I’ll keep you up-to-date on that.

Beyond just shopping purchases, another reason why I am tracking my progress is because I need all the support and encouragement I can get. Like I said, I am trying to get back on my feet but so far, this has been the encouragement received:

"Dad, I signed up for a 5k for October. Be encouraging, not cynical." -me
“Your mother and I will be in Europe for October. So I guess we won't see you fall flat on your face *…* is that encouraging?" –dad


“I knew this whole thing was an excuse to buy shoes.” – brother.

And while I love my family, I know that they won’t be supportive until weeks after the run, when they’re bragging to their friends and they think I’m out of earshot.

So, right now, send all the love you can.

In return, I will keep you update on how I am doing. So far, so good—until the reality of what I signed up for sinks in.

(the image I decided to go with for my fundraising page)

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, “does she even write about soccer anymore?” Yes, I do.

Ahem: Toronto FC announced today that it will play a friendly against Roma. Roma, in my opinion, has some of the nicest jerseys in Serie A. That’s about all I have to say about the match.


*I have an inability to tie shoelaces.