Soccer (football) is awesome. The popularity of soccer in the United States has been on the rise for years. Too bad our men can’t seem to make it to world level finals, but our women rock it!
I attended a Seattle Sounders game Saturday. If you have never been to a professional soccer game, go. It is one of the best sporting events to attend. Cheering, chanting, and team rivalry abound. Yelling at the ref and opponent’s goalie is expected.
Saturday’s game was for the Cascadia Cup, so the Sounders opened the full stadium up for fans. Many Vancouver fans attended and were able to sit outside of the designated area”¦which caused some raised eyebrows from rabid Sounders. “That is now how it is done.” Good thing Seattle fans are easygoing; if this had been elsewhere those poor Whitecap fans may have been more concerned for their safety.
While the game was enjoyable, it was a friend’s statement that caught my attention. “I don’t know why they need a women’s pro league. They could integrate the sport. Hope Solo would rock it on goal for the Sounders, and the women would really raise their level of play.” I know his point was that women’s soccer is just as good as men’s and that our U.S. women’s team was awesome and deserves a chance to play. It truly is. What other sport do men watch the women’s teams if the men aren’t playing? But”¦
Would women really be given a fair try? I don’t think so. That is why we need a pro women’s league. Professional women’s soccer has been tried several times, flopping each and every time. The most recent, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), ended play in May 2012. Several of those players joined the women’s Seattle Sounders and went on to play for the gold medal in the summer Olympics. The Sounders women do not get paid to play soccer this season. But they keep playing. They are passionate, amazing athletes. In 2003 the Women’s United Soccer Association collapsed despite the 100 million dollar investment.
It is expensive to run a professional league. Think about the travel, hotel, player wages, referee wages, etc. Yet a new women’s league is in the works. Seattle is on the list of about eight cities to receive a team at the start. This is probably because we are such super supporters of our men’s Sounders team and have awesome women players up here already. The future team owner, Bill Predmore, doesn’t plan on having the women’s Sounders move up the level to professional play; he is not an owner or member of the Sounders group.
Side note: I feel to have the greatest success you have to play on the name. Why create an entirely new team and have the women’s Sounders still playing in Seattle? Work something out with Paul Allen! Seattle teams wear blue and green”¦ but those colors are owned by the current team owners. Isn’t there way to bring them on board?
The current Seattle women’s team is trying to keep all options open. The Sounders promise to return to the pitch in 2013 but avail themselves to the option of playing professional if it is a viable option.
The new league must pay attention to the failure rate of women’s professional leagues in the past. The last two attempts have not lasted very long. Look to models of success to build the foundation. The WNBA is an example of success. With support from the NBA and David Stern to keep it going, women’s basketball is a real thing. Stern pointed out that “it’s too bad we can’t get a fair allocation of
space based on interest” regarding the ratings on ESPN2 and lack of local media for women’s basketball.
If the new women’s soccer league is to succeed, it must have the support of the MLS in the same manner the WNBA has support from the NBA: vocal, visible, real.