Lower League Club Wikipedia Entries Tagged for Deletion

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Wikipedia is an amazing resource. An open source website created and continually updated solely by volunteers. Anyone can take part in creating and editing the vast encyclopedia. It is usually the first, go-to reference source when searching for more information about a world of topics.

A topic gets a page if someone decides it’s worthy enough to put in the sweat equity to create it. The site does have schemes called WikiProjects (again, volunteer-run) that area group of contributors who collaborate on writing, improving and cataloging articles in their given areas of interest. WikiProject Football (often just called WP:FOOTY) is the WikiProject for soccer. WP:FOOTY comes up with standards of what articles fall under the soccer umbrella, templates for a variety of soccer topics, style guides for articles and notability guidelines to determine if an article deserves to be on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia pages for GCPL teams including Nebraska Bugeaters, AFC Mobile, Tallahassee SC, Biloxi City FC, and Central Texas Lobos FC have all been flagged for deletion.

Wikipedia pages for GCPL teams including Nebraska Bugeaters, AFC Mobile, Tallahassee SC, Biloxi City FC, and Central Texas Lobos FC have all been flagged for deletion.

If a soccer article is created on Wikipedia that does not meet WP:FOOTY’s notability guidelines per an assigned administrator, the page may never go live. Also, if a page has already been created in the past and is live, at some later date, that WikiProject’s volunteers might tag it for deletion and, after some deliberation, delete that page.

This week a Wikipedia editor tagged most of the teams currently in the Gulf Coast Premier League for deletion. The assertion was that the articles do not pass WP:FOOTY’s notability guidelines for clubs. The general notability guideline (GNG) for sport which says that a topic needs significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject. WP:FOOTY requires clubs to meet the GNG and, as a guideline, notes that a team generally meets GNG if it has played in their country’s national cup. England gets a specific guideline that a club meets GNG if it has played in at least level 10 of the English system or in one of four national cups.

Beyond the somewhat overzealous editor choosing to, overzealously, implement a general guide as an immovable rule, the bigger issue is that WP:FOOTY’s notability guideline for clubs doesn’t really work for US clubs. The number of clubs that can qualify for the US Open Cup’s First Round (yes, qualification doesn’t count under WP:FOOTY’s GNG guideline) has not remotely matched the relative number of notable clubs that have formed during the modern soccer explosion. In addition, clubs outside of the three pro Divisions have no competitive access to leagues with automatic entries into the USOC so their path to so-called “notability” is severely hindered by the very structure of US soccer.

While a relatively small issue in the grand scheme of the sport, a lower league club’s worthiness to have a Wikipedia article, is a practical example of the impact that US soccer’s top-down structure that overly prioritizes the worth of higher-level clubs over the vast number of grassroots clubs. Having most of the resources and easier access builds in notability while lower-level clubs must jump over unreasonable hurdles to gain that sheen of notability.

The debate has already begun on Wikipedia.

The debate has already begun on Wikipedia.

While that is the practical description of what is going on the most popular source of basic information on EVERY subject, where this issue goes from this point almost certainly heads in a dark direction for lower league soccer fans. The work of one persnickety volunteer Wikipedia editor may lead to a host of significant clubs without exposure on a very important public website. It’s clear Wikipedia needs to expand their definition of significance to take into account the wave of clubs joining the American soccer landscape. However, trying to get an organization prone to long-winded debate to change their mind quickly enough to save these entries might be too much to ask.

- Dan Creel