Category Archives: Color Commentary

Color Commentary: Marta's Story Deserves to Be Told, But Who Deserves to Tell It?

By John Turnbull. Originally appeared on


A package of articles published Oct 5 on Brazilian Web portal Terra details the unique pressures facing Diego Graciano in promoting his biography of sensational 22-year-old Marta Vieira da Silva (see earlier articles, Sept 15 and 12 Sept 07).

The strains started accumulating during his Dec 04 research trip to Marta’s hometown, Dois Riachos, when natives incorporated Graciano into festivities surrounding the customary bingo games in the central square. Having returned from Sweden where she plays professionally for Umeå IK, Marta spoke tearfully to her home supporters. Graciano, to his surprise, was asked to follow. Before Marta, “her eyes full of water,” and many of her relations, he promised to complete the project—the first biography of a female soccer player in Brazil and likely in Latin America (Bruno Ceccon, “Biografia de Marta vira motivo de polêmica com escritor”).

He made good on the pledge. Graciano conducted 70 interviews and amassed 250 images from Marta’s life, including one-of-a-kind pictures from her tenure with an otherwise all-male youth side, Everton, and a photostat of her registration card for futebol de salão. He tells the Terra writer that he has spent nearly $7,000 on the project. He self-published 250 copies of the book, Você é mulher, Marta! (You Are a Woman, Marta!), in the summer and sent them to Brazilian journalists and other contacts in football.

The goal of taking Marta’s story to the masses has foundered in a local publishing landscape that shies from printing biographies of living celebrities without explicit authorization. Legal imbroglios surrounding publication of Roberto Carlos em Detalhes (Roberto Carlos in Detail) by Paulo Cesar de Araújo—a book about the singer, not the former defender for Real Madrid—and a Garrincha biography by Ruy Castro are cited as precedent. Yet Graciano has produced a document, which Marta is said to have signed 1 Mar 05, in which she promises to tell her story to him “on an exclusive basis.” In the text, she approves “work, research, studies, contacts and compilation of data and documents with a view to writing and publishing a book that constitutes the biography of the undersigned, writing and publication that is … now … authorized.”

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Color Commentary: "The Role Model Thing: Perspectives from the Women's Game"

by Andrew Guest. Courtesy of 2/22/10


The periodic debate about whetherathletes should be role models (recently, think John Terry, Tiger Woods, or marketing Women’s Professional Soccer) offers much fodder for provocative discussion.  What are the obligations of sports celebrity?  Is it reasonable to expect athletes to be good at things other than their sport?  Do children really model their behavior and decisions based on tabloid reports about sports heroes?

What the role model debate usually does not offer is systematic analysis or evidence about whether athletes actually have any influence on other people’s behavior—an absence I became aware of a few years ago when working with one of my University of Portland students on a thesis project.  At that time Stephanie Lopez (now married and playing in WPS and with the Women’s National Team as Stephanie Cox) had a vested stake in the debate.  She was on the verge of playing with the US Women’s National Team at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, was in the midst of a college soccer career that would earn her the Senior CLASS Award “presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year in women’s soccer,” and was even identified in an article on as “soccer’s unassuming role model.”

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