Unsolicited Advice to Women’s Professional Soccer

Saturday night, I went with my good friend, Patrick Reis, to see the WPS Sky Blue vs. Western NY Flash game. As he’s a journalist, I asked him if he’d share his thoughts on the experience. So… guest blogger under guest blogger. But it’s a new and fresher perspective than mine — I’m already an avid Women’s Professional Soccer enthusiast — and this was his first live WPS game. Here, below, is an opinion the WPS League should be taking seriously – he’s a mid-twenties, cable subscribing, sports fan with an affinity for soccer:

Last night’s Women’s Professional Soccer game was a brilliant display of athleticism and a wonderful sports spectacle, and yet I left concerned for the future of the league.

We’ll start with the positives: The quality of play was amazing. Without exception, it was a field full of world-class athletes playing at the highest level – minus the flopping, fighting and constant kvetching common to certain other not-to-be-named professional sports leagues. They moved the ball constantly and made extremely few mistakes, did amazing things with the ball that even non-soccer fans could appreciate, as well as the subtle stuff that hard-core fans could enjoy.

And enjoy it we did. Perhaps the best part was watching young kids who knew the roster top to bottom. We sat next to a pair of teenagers who referred to the players by their first name and discussed the pros and cons of putting them on the field.

Alex Morgan, soccer’s “it-girl” of the moment, provided the cherry on top. Despite coming on with only 20 minutes to go (more on that later), Morgan continued her highlight reel season (building off this gem against Boston), with the coolest cool I’ve ever seen in person. Shortly before the final whistle she raced to a ball nobody thought she’d get, touching it away from the oncoming keeper. Then she collected it before she got to the end-line, whirled around, chipped and curved the ball into the back of the net. The crowd loved it.

Great crowd, great game and a great finish. What more could you ask for?
Sadly, it was what we could have asked for less of. For starters, less driving. The game was at Rutgers, 45 minutes away. And less confusion. As we pulled into the parking lot, the attendant told us the game was sold out. Having spent 45 minutes in the car, we decided it was worth another 15 minutes to double check. Sure enough, tickets were still available, but only after a long wait in line and a healthy dose of box office confusion. That’s when the fun really got started:

As we made the trek to our section, we were stopped by a very loud, very angry, very mulleted woman who proceeded to shout at us for not knowing exactly where on the grassy hill we were supposed to sit. Now, paying $15 for a soccer game is entirely reasonable, but I can (and frequently do) get yelled at for free. So, you know, maybe we can pass on that next time.

And, hey, maybe given that Alex Morgan is so popular right now that there was a 13-year-old boy wearing her jersey, she could play more than 20 minutes? I get it, there are 100 sports reasons to rest your best player when you’re winning. But this is a business, and a business that is struggling to get off the ground. So when you have opportunities to raise the league’s profile, you have to pounce and pounce hard. Pearl Jam doesn’t fill amphitheaters without Eddie Vedder, pet stores don’t put ugly puppies in the window the week before Christmas, and Kate Goldwater doesn’t let me anywhere near her store during daylight.

For me, I don’t mind. These are all minor annoyances in an otherwise great night. I’ll go again as soon as I can. But for families with limited time and limited income (and lots of places that are more than willing to take it), one or two hitches could be enough to convince them to spend their next outing elsewhere.

Women’s Professional Soccer: This is your moment, your chance to show off what you can do. The fans are ready to do their part – 5,000 braved the logistical hassles to sell out the regular seating section, and the field-level seats, at $75-a-pop, were sold out as well. The players are doing their part and then some: playing world-class soccer as likable, fan-friendly athletes.

But unless the league irons out the kinks – and irons them out quickly – it could all be for naught.

Patrick Reis writes a daily column on energy policy for POLITICO (http://www.politico.com/morningenergy) that is funny at least twice a month, and erratically maintains a Twitter feed at @Patrick_C_Reis.

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37 Responses to Unsolicited Advice to Women’s Professional Soccer

  1. Iany says:

    I dig this, because it’s criticism that really gets to the point of the issue with women’s sports. Market that shit!!

  2. Perhaps a business model is needed to make Women’s Professional Soccer thrive. I just wonder what steps will be taken to achieve greater parity, and how they will affect the character of the sport.

    Is there a way to embrace a more commercialized image without cheapening the game altogether?

  3. Matt V. says:

    A very good and funny article! But I wonder if it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to the sudden popularity of women’s soccer given the attention to the US team in the World Cup.
    The game needs to be sustainable and they may do better to focus on a target market: young girls. If girls are then dragging their parents and friends to games, that helps to expand the market as well.
    Yes, Alex Morgan is a great poster girl for the sport, but should that mean kicking someone else out of the starting lineup for marketing purpose if Alex has not won a starting position? That could create some resentment and cat-fighting.

  4. Unsolicited Commenter says:

    What more could you ask for?
    Sadly, it was what we could have asked for less of. For starters, less driving. The game was at Rutgers, 45 minutes away.

    WPS teams are not yet profitable ventures. Playing in smaller venues that are not as much in demand (e.g., farther from away from population centers) is a way of keeping down fixed costs.

    And less confusion. As we pulled into the parking lot, the attendant told us the game was sold out. Having spent 45 minutes in the car, we decided it was worth another 15 minutes to double check. Sure enough, tickets were still available, but only after a long wait in line and a healthy dose of box office confusion.

    Spectators can do their part in reducing confusion by ordering tickets online or over the phone ahead of the match. This helps the box office from getting overwhelmed. And, considering that this was the largest reported attendance of the season at Yurcak Field (5,065 versus a previous high of 2,947), I am going to guess that there were plenty of walk-ups at this match.

    And, hey, maybe given that Alex Morgan is so popular right now that there was a 13-year-old boy wearing her jersey, she could play more than 20 minutes?

    WNY has a very deep bench of forwards: Marta, Sinclair, Morgan, Zerboni. And, WNY just started a stretch of playing 4 matches over 12 days (July 30th to August 10th). So, please forgive the team’s coach for not playing all his best players for a full 90 minutes. The team is trying to secure a top play-off spot after all.

    But unless the league irons out the kinks – and irons them out quickly – it could all be for naught.

    Spectator experience is a concern, but the league has much bigger kinks to worry about — such as keeping their current owners enthusiastic and limiting financial losses.

  5. WookieMonster says:

    Comrade Kevin: Perhaps a business model is needed to make Women’s Professional Soccer thrive. I just wonder what steps will be taken to achieve greater parity, and how they will affect the character of the sport.Is there a way to embrace a more commercialized image without cheapening the game altogether?

    I think there actually is a lot of parity (in terms of competition) in the league, though it might not have seemed that way on Saturday night. That said, WNY is a verrry good team. Also, the WPS could use a healthy dose of commercialism–the league would kill to be more commercial. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have that kind of money to market itself to a wider, commercial audience. That’s why fans need to continue supporting the team and go to games next season. Then we can get to that point. Wouldn’t worry about it “cheapening the game.”

    Ditto to the author for why the team plays in New Brunswick and not say Red Bulls Arena. They just don’t have the money to play there. However, if a move closer to the city would get greater turn out than it has to be done.

  6. StarCityFan says:

    Matt V.:
    The game needs to be sustainable and they may do better to focus on a target market: young girls.If girls are then dragging their parents and friends to games, that helps to expand the market as well.

    WUSA did almost all of its marketing to young girls. It alienated many adult fans, and the league failed after three years (not chiefly for that reason, though it was a factor). WPS needs to provide for all facets of fandom, not just the pony-tailed hooligans.

  7. Garin says:

    Nice work guys. As you say, the league is a business, and one that is struggling. I think sports leagues and franchises will always struggle with that duel role of being a sporting entity and a business, but it sounds like if these guys don’t get their act together, it won’t be either.

    I feel like the teams and players are being asked to do a lot- to not only play the sport and win games, but also promote the league and the sport itself- and like you said, they are doing their part. Both times our women had a good run in the World Cup the players were heavily involved in the promotion of the team and the sport. I am just not sure the league has done enough to capitalize on it afterward- but maybe they don’t have the cash to do that.

    I would be curious to know how the league really makes it’s money- what share is butts in seats at the games, etc. It seems like the problems you mentioned boil down to money- being able to host the game in a good venue with staff that know what they are doing costs money. Promoting the league to capitalize the Cup costs money. Even things that would generate money- like the life-sized Hope Solo posters and Hope Solo action figures and other merch, cost money up-front that they probably don’t have.

    It’s just a little hard to tell what is actually bad management and what is simply a shortage of resources. I feel like we have expectations of the league due to the groundswell of interest they recently received, but maybe our expectations should be re-calibrated to take into account the intervals between these frenzied Cup runs.

    I for one, became a fan. They had me at no flopping. I think the dudes should be made to wear the tighter shirts and shorter shorts- it’s the only way people are going to continue to watch them if they keep acting like that.

  8. tinfoil hattie says:

    There is NOTHING so great as mansplanations. Aaah, they just lift my world.

    Thank you, o great dude, for telling WOMEN how to make women’s sports just as asinine a sales event as men’s sports. Can’t wait!

  9. StarCityFan says:

    there are 100 sports reasons to rest your best player when you’re winning.

    Alex Morgan is far from Western New York’s best player. I’d say she’s no better than third (behind five-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta and WPS leading goalscorer Christine Sinclair), and that’s being generous.

    As we pulled into the parking lot, the attendant told us the game was sold out.

    This is unfortunate, to be sure, but a sellout at a WPS match is almost unprecedented, so it’s not astonishing that the support personnel would be unprepared for it.

  10. Esti says:

    I appreciate hearing the spectator perspective on the games, even if others have pointed out that some of the criticism (particularly re: resting the “best” player) is not totally on the nose. This isn’t mansplaining — men can (and hopefully do/will!) have valid opinions about what a women’s sports league can do to draw a bigger audience.

    On the other hand:

    Matt V.: Yes, Alex Morgan is a great poster girl for the sport, but should that mean kicking someone else out of the starting lineup for marketing purpose if Alex has not won a starting position? That could create some resentment and cat-fighting.

    Is it really necessary to drag out the tired cat-fighting stereotype to make this point? Both male and female athletes have been known to become resentful when a teammate is given more of the spotlight than they might have earned. There’s no need to use sexist language to describe that reaction.

  11. Tom Foolery says:

    The only reason any U.S. pro sports teams are financially viable are the huge sums of money they receive from city coffers and concessions they extract from local lawmakers. If NFL franchises had to build their own stadiums, they’d all be flat broke.

    So, marketing strategies targeting the public are all well and good, but upping the league’s lobbying budget is probably more key to success.

  12. Bitter Scribe says:

    I don’t know nearly enough about soccer to comment intelligently, so I’ll just say how much I enjoyed the phrase “pony-tailed hooligans.”

  13. shark fan says:

    Matt V.:
    Yes, Alex Morgan is a great poster girl for the sport, but should that mean kicking someone else out of the starting lineup for marketing purpose if Alex has not won a starting position?That could create some resentment and cat-fighting.

    yes, that’s exactly what that should mean. given the window of opportunity for the WPS it doesn’t have the luxury of marketing mistakes. it’s safe to say that she is a large part of why the game had such high attendance, so for her to only play 20 minutes is a let down to the fans buying tickets. if from nowhere else, the pressure to put recognizable players on the field should be coming from the owners, for the sake of the league.

    speaking of owners:

    Unsolicited Commenter:

    Spectator experience is a concern, but the league has much bigger kinks to worry about — such as keeping their current owners enthusiastic and limiting financial losses.

    i can’t think of a better way to limit financial losses and keep owners enthusiastic than keeping the spectators happy with their experience so that they’ll come back. if you aren’t selling tickets you aren’t making money. if you treat the spectators like you are doing them a favor by letting them watch, they won’t come back.

    tinfoil hattie:
    There is NOTHING so great as mansplanations.Aaah, they just lift my world.

    Thank you, o great dude, for telling WOMEN how to make women’s sports just as asinine a sales event as men’s sports.Can’t wait!

    congratulations on trying to make this opinion sexist. exactly what WOMEN is he addressing? the owners? there are plenty of men backing these teams at the decision making level. asinine as you may find men’s sports, they are sustainable. without taking a page from their playbook we likely won’t have women’s sports at all. is that better?

    i understand the staff at the game might not have been prepared for the crowd, but that is no excuse for poor customer service. it’s a customer oriented business and needs to be approached as such. treat the fans like shit and you won’t have fans to worry about.

  14. Patrick Reis says:

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for all the really insightful comments, and thanks for a few of the other comments as well.

    Let me start by eating crow. I was wrong to say Alex Morgan is the Flash’s best player. I watched the World Cup (and the previous World Cup) and know that Marta is widely regarded as the world’s best forward (and maybe even the game’s G.O.A.T.). And while I didn’t know that Christine Sinclair is the league’s leading scorer, I certainly think that should be enough to keep a spot on the starting 11. So, yeah, Alex Morgan may have the soccer milkshake to bring the girls and boys to the yard, but I stand corrected: she’s not the only milkshake in town.

    Also, I guess I’m wrong about the venue location too, or at least oversimplifying things. 1) It’s a good point that playing at a larger stadium, if they had to rent at market rates, would eat profit margins 2) and maybe not everything has to be set up to be convenient for someone in Manhattan. I’ve heard rumors that some people may actually live in New Jersey, and perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world if things were sometimes convenient for them. Horrifying as this is, the world may not in fact rotate around the axis of my ego. Damn shame.

    And now to get a little perschnickety. I’m not sure that starting Morgan out of turn would cause “cat-fighting”, so much as a full-blown, underwear-wearing gossip-fest of a pillow fight slumber party, which started with hurtful comments about Morgan’s makeup and end in crying, making out, hairbraiding and prank calling cute boyz houses. (For the “Tinfoil Hattie”s of the world, I’m employing sarcasm here).

    You know, either that or it would cause “professional resentment” or a “lack of team cohesion” or even cause those women to have an “emotional mature and intellectually rational reactions to an injustice” million other terms that one would use to describe a professional workforce being treated unfairly by management. Women do stuff like that, right?

    And now onto my “mansplanations” — a new term for me, but one that I certainly look forward to using in the near future. So thanks for that one, Tinfoil Hattie, you royal bucket of sunshine. The owner of the NY Flash is Joe Sahlen. The president of the NY Sky Blue is Thomas Hofstetter. Those dudes are both dudes, if a google image search isn’t letting me down. So, it turns out I’m not telling women what to do, but rather making suggestions that I think would help a largely male-owned business named “Women’s Professional Soccer” continue to survive. And I’m making those because I hope it survives. And I’m using this forum to do it because Chauvinism Weekly keeps rejecting my stuff.

    But I don’t want to dwell on one comment. This was a really cool experience for me, and I really appreciate all the people who took the time to read my ramblings and then help me (and anyone else reading) better understand the subject. I look forward to reading more Feministe, watching more WPS, making more fun of Kate Goldwater and enjoying hearing from a host of thoughtful people. Thanks to KG and Feministe for the run.

    Sincerely,
    Patrick

  15. tinfoil hattie says:

    Gosh, sharkfan, I don’t know … the ENTIRE WORLD OF WOMEN’S SOCCER?

  16. tinfoil hattie says:

    Oooh, Patrick Reis! Musta hit where it hurt, eh? If I pissed you off THAT much, you know I’m right! Lemme know where in my contract I’m supposed to be a bucket o’ sunshine, okay?

    Ha-ha-ahaaa – this cracks me up SO much! Every time a feminist points out sexism, it gets turned by dudebros into how much women hate men!

    P.S. I’m not required to “smile,” either, Patrick!

    P.P.S. “It-girl” is a sexist term. You’re welcome.

    • Jill says:

      There is NOTHING so great as mansplanations. Aaah, they just lift my world.

      You know, sometimes a word gets used so incorrectly so many times that it loses all mean. “Mansplaining” does not mean “anything a man says.” It refers to a specific, condescending way that men will explain things to the little ladies who clearly don’t understand themselves, and are too illogical to get the point. I really do not see how Patrick is doing anything approaching that here.

      Thank you, o great dude, for telling WOMEN how to make women’s sports just as asinine a sales event as men’s sports. Can’t wait!

      Please. Patrick was detailing his experience at a sporting event, and pointing out how women’s sports are ghettoized and how that’s disappointing. Also, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not all women who run the women’s professional soccer league. In fact, I’d wager that it’s a lot of men who are making the kinds of business decisions that Patrick is criticizing.

    • Jill says:

      Oooh, Patrick Reis! Musta hit where it hurt, eh? If I pissed you off THAT much, you know I’m right! Lemme know where in my contract I’m supposed to be a bucket o’ sunshine, okay?

      You don’t have to be a bucket of sunshine, but per Feministe’s comment policy you are required to “to respect our guests as [you] would the house writers.” That means don’t act like a jerk.

  17. fannie says:

    Patrick mentions 3 “kinks” with “women’s professional soccer” in this piece, but I question (a) whether 2 out of the 3 have solutions and (b) whether these kinks should more accurately be called kinks of this particular team (instead of being, say, an indictment of the entire league).

    Where I live, the WNBA team plays in the ‘burbs rather than in the city, likely because this is a cheaper alternative. So, I’m glad to see that Patrick acknowledged that point with respect to the game being held at Rutgers.

    I’m not sure what to make of the criticism where he notes he was yelled at by the “very loud, very angry, very mulleted woman” for sitting in the wrong section. That criticism seems a bit cheap, or like it would be more difficult for the league to control. Was the mulleted woman an employee? Or, like, just a random fan? It’s not clear from his article. And, assuming she was an employee, should the league implement special customer service training where employees learn to address fans in a Very Friendly Manner while also Having Hot Hair Styles?

    Anyway, I think his point about Alex Morgan’s playing time is a fair one. That being said, I think we have to be careful about generalizing one person’s experience at one game into a treatise on an entire league’s flaws, especially since there are also likely larger, more systemic reasons than angry mulleted women as to why women’s soccer might be struggling.

  18. Anne says:

    Thank goodness a guy came in here to inform us that women’s sports are ghettoized? I wonder if anybody ever gets yelled at by mulletted male sports fans.

    • Jill says:

      Sure, let’s go ahead and ignore everything that Kate has written over the past two weeks, and focus on this ONE post because it was written by a man. That seems productive.

  19. Ayla says:

    You know what? tinfoil hattie IS a big bucket of sunshine. How nice to recognize her for it.

  20. fannie says:

    “Sure, let’s go ahead and ignore everything that Kate has written over the past two weeks, and focus on this ONE post because it was written by a man. That seems productive.”

    Well, given that 2/3 of his criticisms aren’t constructive and the one about being shouted at by an angry, mulleted lady is kind-of-petty-and-perhaps-an-isolated-incident, I would question how productive his article is.

    Anyway, I didn’t make my comment about him being a man, but I understand the sentiment. This was Patrick’s “first live WPS” game, after which he felt compelled to offer unsolicited (and not very constructive) advice to the entire league. I don’t think it’s mansplaining, but isn’t that kind of… bold?

    I’m just imagining the people in charge of WPS saying, “Gee, thanks New Guy, like we’ve never thought to have the games somewhere else.”

  21. Patrick Reis says:

    Hey,

    So thanks for more helpful feedback. I have a little more crow to eat but also a thought or two to express:

    First, I shouldn’t have mentioned the mullet. I was mad and poked fun at this person’s physical appearance, and in retrospect that wasn’t necessary. I could have left it that this person — a Sky Blue employee — displayed poor customer service and that it diminished my enjoyment of the game. Her hair didn’t need to enter into it.

    That said, I think maybe the idea of what I was trying to say is getting twisted around a bit. I came in and offered my experience from attending a game, and I did so in the hopes of promoting what was cool and suggesting what could be better.

    I realize it’s my first game, but when people are deciding whether or not to be fans of a league, I’m skeptical that they would go three or four times and then decide if they like it — I see it as kind of a one-shot deal. That’s why I think feedback from a first-time attendee might be helpful. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the league, just the opposite: I’m saying that, as someone new to the league, here’s what I liked and here’s what I didn’t.

    I’m not saying I should be installed as WPS Czar and allowed to dictate the league’s ever policy, I’m just saying I think this league has the potential to be financially self-sustaining because it’s putting an awesome product on the field, and I think that’s more likely to happen if the amenities surrounding that product match it in quality. And, in truth, I’m not even saying that this is a problem league-wide, I’m just saying it was a problem Saturday night, and it is the kind of problem that, if frequently repeated, could drive something really cool out of existence.

    And that — in my far-from-perfect opinion — would suck.

    If that means people are up for calling me a mansplaining dudebro, I can live with that, and I’m still glad I gave this a try.

  22. vanessa says:

    Patrick, I know nothing about soccer except that you cant use yoiur hands unless you are the goalie and also there is a lot of kicking, but I LIKED this article and didn’t feel you were mansplaining or whateverthefuck, so thanks for contributing. Seriously.

  23. Paula says:

    Patrick, this article is fine. I recommend this article for you (h/t to blogger @ FakeSigi.com):

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/jul/08/success-still-elusive-goal/

    WPS has gone through rough times since its inception, losing 5 teams since the inaugural match in 2009. Because of the (relatively) poor record from the USWNT in World Cup qualifying this year, I suspect they didn’t think they could count on a big marketing payday by counting on/preparing for increased interest with this year’s World Cup. They are going through some managerial/ownership issues, and financially are still hanging by the skin of their teeth. But they are very cognizant of how mismanaged marketing and expectations doomed the first US pro women’s league.

    So, unfortunately, WPS was probably a little blindsided by the response they received. I do hope, however, that sellouts will mean that they will eventually figure out a way to disseminate information better to their fans.

  24. Ayla says:

    “This was Patrick’s “first live WPS” game, after which he felt compelled to offer unsolicited (and not very constructive) advice to the entire league. I don’t think it’s mansplaining, but isn’t that kind of… bold? ”

    Not only is what you described definitely mansplaining, it’s actually such a good example of mansplaining that I plan to use it next time someone asks me what the word means.

  25. pasoccerdad says:

    I realize it’s my first game, but when people are deciding whether or not to be fans of a league, I’m skeptical that they would go three or four times and then decide if they like it — I see it as kind of a one-shot deal. .

    ANd you picked the most attended game that none of the staff could have been prepared to deal with after seeing crowds of less than 1500 all season… Why did you chose this game ? Because of Morgan?

    She does not play longer because she is not fit enough she would be gassed by halftime and would have to play against fresh legs. She comes on when the team is worn out and she can look great for a highlight.

    Seriously, Sky Blue gave up well before they left her completely unmarked and shooting on a goal that the keeper had even abandoned… no one was try to stop her, they were headed to the locker room

  26. Fake Sigi says:

    Thanks for the hat-tip Paula. And one to Patrick, who I thought was relatively evenhanded as a stranger in a strange land.

    The issues Patrick described in regards to employee interaction with fans are not unique to SBFC or even WPS. Organizational communication seems to be anathema to pro soccer teams in the USA. MLS, I’m looking right at you. I have no idea why this seems to be the case.

    The debate about how to market the league goes all the way back to WUSA, the failed WPS predicessor. And in response to Garin, the reality is WPS has no marketing budget this year, so it doesn’t matter a whole lot that I personally think they should focus on aspirational marketing to young women and build out from there. They’ve got a great on the field product, but are in a tough place and time.

    In regards to G.O.A.T., Michelle Akers. It’s a shame she played in an era with very little coverage.

    -FS

  27. wilcofan says:

    tinfoil said,

    “Ha-ha-ahaaa – this cracks me up SO much! Every time a feminist points out sexism, it gets turned by dudebros into how much women hate men!”

    Nobody has made an insinuation on this blog that “women hate men.” I think, as an armchair psychologist, that it might be time to stop posting on the internet.

  28. pasoccerdad says:

    Not for nothing but your complaints were being in the car and getting “yelled at” for being in the wrong sections for seating

    Very picky… was she in your face yelling or was 10 feet away – that makes a big difference

    45 Miinutes in a car is a long time? I came from King of Prussia, PA to see the game.

    I attend many WPS games and yes as with any buisness, incidents do occur. you can decide not to come back or if you were there to watch the game and enjoyed it.. the minor trivial incident would be a non issue.

    Feel free to visit the WPS boards on bigsoccer.com… we have been having discussions on how to assist the owners in the league for a few years

    Also try coming when the crowd is not expected to be capacity… Us die hard supporter hope that this attendance becomes the norm and then the staff will better handle the overload

  29. WhatAboutTheMen says:

    StarCityFan: WUSA did almost all of its marketing to young girls. It alienated many adult fans, and the league failed after three years (not chiefly for that reason, though it was a factor). WPS needs to provide for all facets of fandom, not just the pony-tailed hooligans.

    Try running the re-gendering process on this comment (do people do that here?). Have you seen the advertising at a game featuring dude players lately? They don’t seem to feel the need to “provide for all facets of fandom” so much as they publicly treat half their fans like objects that exist for the pleasure and amusement of the other half.

    I don’t know of the marketing in question, but if they target teenage girls I’m happy to hear it. I doubt its the marketing that keeps the money away from women’s sports. (hint: I’m pretty sure its the women that the big money objects to).

  30. XJanus says:

    I have a hard time accepting the proposition that American men, at large and especially on the internet, are truly invested in seeing women’s sport franchises becoming “financially self sufficient,” which I think is code for the speaker resenting the existence of title IX as a means of eroding discrimination against and counteracting the traditionally poor funding for female athletics. No successful male sports franchises are self sufficient. All are the beneficiaries either of public money or of private money through sponsorship. Self sufficiency implies that ticket sales, broadcasting, and concession sales will yield a profit equal or greater than the cost of maintaining a league or a team. That’s never been the benchmark of success for male sports leagues (mostly because it’s virtually impossible), so it seems unfair to suggest, even implicitly, that women’s football leagues, for example, should in a mere matter of a few years generate more revenue than men’s leagues — which have never faced discrimination — have in their entire existence.

  31. Chaldanya says:

    I can’t speak to the specific criticisms of WPS in this actual article but as a supporter of an English football team for about 17 years I can question what the travel time/capacity ‘problems’ had to do with the enjoyment of the game??

    I support a fairly middling English team that has just been relegated to the 2nd tier of English football. Our capacity is approximately 36,000 and our ground is right in the centre of the city for which it is named. Many a Saturday I’ve spent stting in a car for an hour both ways (even living only 15 minutes away on none match days) and there’s a wait to leave the ground. What Patrick described in his orginal post would be heaven to many a football fan in this country – only 45 mintues and a ticket for £10? Awesome.

    The other issue (and this may well be a cultural thing) but whilst professional teams are motivated by money (obviously) the way they get that money more often than not is by winning games – not by playing the favourite players. Players can not play for a host of reasons, maybe this particular player is a ‘super-sub’ or she’s being eased back in after an injury or the tactics don’t support her type of play. Using her profile on marketing campaigns is great, playing her against anyone of the things mentioned above could mean losing games – and believe me when I tell you that doesn’t put bums on seats.

    N

  32. Bushfire says:

    Try running the re-gendering process on this comment (do people do that here?). Have you seen the advertising at a game featuring dude players lately? They don’t seem to feel the need to “provide for all facets of fandom” so much as they publicly treat half their fans like objects that exist for the pleasure and amusement of the other half.

    I don’t know of the marketing in question, but if they target teenage girls I’m happy to hear it. I doubt its the marketing that keeps the money away from women’s sports. (hint: I’m pretty sure its the women that the big money objects to).

    DING DING DING DING DING DING DING! You win!

  33. WookieMonster says:

    Garin: I for one, became a fan. They had me at no flopping. I think the dudes should be made to wear the tighter shirts and shorter shorts- it’s the only way people are going to continue to watch them if they keep acting like that.

    YES. Thank you.

    Also love that all the WPS commenters of gravitated to this blog.

  34. WookieMonster says:

    XJanus: I have a hard time accepting the proposition that American men, at large and especially on the internet, are truly invested in seeing women’s sport franchises becoming “financially self sufficient,” which I think is code for the speaker resenting the existence of title IX as a means of eroding discrimination against and counteracting the traditionally poor funding for female athletics.

    1) False. Here’s one American male who cares that this league is sustainable, i.e. will exist ten years from now. For reason why, see Garin’s comment quoted above (although now that I re-read it, it could also be construed as sexist–but I’m not even gonna go there).

    XJanus: No successful male sports franchises are self sufficient. All are the beneficiaries either of public money or of private money through sponsorship. Self sufficiency implies that ticket sales, broadcasting, and concession sales will yield a profit equal or greater than the cost of maintaining a league or a team. That’s never been the benchmark of success for male sports leagues (mostly because it’s virtually impossible), so it seems unfair to suggest, even implicitly, that women’s football leagues, for example, should in a mere matter of a few years generate more revenue than men’s leagues — which have never faced discrimination — have in their entire existence.

    2) Excellent point. I think people are just looking for the league to be sustainable (see point 1), rather than completely “self-sufficient,” although that would be wonderful.

    blockquote cite=”comment-382092″>

    Chaldanya: The other issue (and this may well be a cultural thing) but whilst professional teams are motivated by money (obviously) the way they get that money more often than not is by winning games – not by playing the favourite players. Players can not play for a host of reasons, maybe this particular player is a ‘super-sub’ or she’s being eased back in after an injury or the tactics don’t support her type of play. Using her profile on marketing campaigns is great, playing her against anyone of the things mentioned above could mean losing games – and believe me when I tell you that doesn’t put bums on seats.N

    3) Yes and no. FC Gold Pride won the WPS championship in 2010. The team folded the next year. But your correct in terms of the way WNY used Alex Morgan.

    4)@Patrick Reis, I love the fact that since writing this article you can now tell us who the leading goal scorer in the WPS is and who the owners of SBFC and WNY are. It means that you actively invested your time in learning more about the WPS. Consider yourself hooked; welcome to the club. We don’t discriminate against mansplaining dudebros…

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