This weekend, I am attending the 10th Annual Sports in Africa Conference at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. It’s been amazing (after just one day!) to be surrounded by a group of diverse scholars all working on sports-related topics throughout the African continent. But being here makes me realize that I should probably make a confession to whoever might be reading this: football is not my primary research focus.
Don’t take this the wrong way; researching and writing about football is very important to me and I foresee it continuing to be important to me as I move forward in my academic career. But, at least for the moment, football is just a side project. This may seem odd given the amount of time and energy that I’m investing into the development of Imbiza, my involvement in the Football Scholars Forum, the blogs I’ve written for Football Is Coming Home, my creation of an online course on the history of sport, and this paper that I’m presenting here in Athens on Izichwe Football Club.
So why devote this kind of energy if it’s just a side project (if only for the moment)? I’ve been asked before if I got involved with football just to make my adviser, Peter Alegi, happy. The answer is: maybe at first, but South Africa showed me the beauty of soccer and its ability to inspire. In the week I spent with Izichwe (and the two months I spent in South Africa), I witnessed the power of football. That’s why I study soccer. That’s why I give it so much time. Because it deserves more study and I want to contribute in whatever humble way that I can.
However, I’ve found myself wondering lately if I choose to focus on soccer instead of my dissertation project because it’s a good way to deflect from a topic that I’m unsure of. But since I’m still quite unsure about my writing about football, that’s probably not it. Is it because I’m just trying to procrastinate doing the real hard work of my dissertation? I don’t think that’s the case either. I’ve been doing a lot of work on my topic, submitting to conferences, and delving into the secondary literature in my (somewhat limited lately) free time.
I’m realizing, as I write this, that I’ve never even mentioned my research on this blog which is, I suppose, somewhat problematic since this is supposed to be a forum to foster my aid in the development of my academic identity. But I find myself quite protective of my doctoral research; it’s new and I’m still unsure of sending it out to the world. I think a lot of academics can sympathize with this sentiment; your research becomes like your child and, at first, it’s terrifying to set it free.
Oh, am I going to tell you about it now? My dissertation research that is?
Not yet. It’s not ready and neither am I.
But soon, I promise! Stay tuned.