I hated math. I was terrible at it, am terrible at. I've been blessed with a wife that regrets, actually regrets not teaching math, and a father-in-law that CPA/CFA certified. My taxes are taken care of for life.
That being said, recently via The Equalizer discusses the most recent attempt to break the NCAA record for attendance at a NCAA Women's Soccer Match.
The goal they're aiming for?
Just over 8,000 people. That's the goal tomorrow beating USC and UCLA tomorrow. The ability to generate more people to their event then ever seen at a single season women's college game in US history.
For a while there I sat shocked, reading this information. I was thinking of Univ. of Tennesse, whose football team on average has somewhere between 90-100k people a game. Yes, you read correctly, close to 100,000 people per college football game. It's packed, it's loud, you'd think it was a EPL game at Man U. For the longest time those were the numbers running through my head as I realized that NCAA soccer holds nothing over NCAA football.
That's when I strolled down to the comments on the bottom of page (some people ask the best questions), and in the second comment was stated as this:
"Okay, so what does WPS need to do to get these fans to show up at their matches?"
It begged to be answered with an answer I didn't have. We tend to look at college matches and try to think up solutions to get the students out, bring the kids out, all of that, and built the ideas from watching the pros do it so well.
Who thought that it'd be a reverse moment in the history of women's soccer?
I came up for four areas that I believe is important for the WPS to closely examine (as if they aren't already), in hopes of being able to bring those numbers to games. 8,000 isn't much compared to 120,000 that Cowboys stadium can hold, but it's a starting point (that and the Cowboys in the NFL are so bad they can't even get that many anymore).
Core, every team has a 'core', it's the devoted fans. It's the people that know their team is going to lose every match, and purchases season tickets anyways (where are my DC United and New Castle fans at?). Personal experience is lacking in this subject matter, especially in the WPS as my state is currently vacant without one (sponsor for the KC Sprint please stand up). However, I know of two teams in the area, that have both gone through those times. Most noteable is the NFL's KC Chiefs, for the last decade, a horrible...HORRIBLE team. However, even last season when they went 2-14 they still had the loudest stadium in the United States. That's passion, and showing up in a game in January that was -15F and still losing, that's desire. That's a core, that's something each WPS team needs in order to survive.
I do believe right now this is one of the primary goals (still looking for the link on a slow internet hookup in the middle of Missouri). That being said, it's great that Puma has taken to action to WPS what Adidas did for MLS. However, in todays world, one major sponsor isn't going to cut it. With Coke, Pepsi, and other giants gone and far not interested in tinkering with a new league, finding sponsors is a difficult process, especially in todays economy. Citi looked promising, until you looked into Citi to find out they're a financial mess. What about telecom's? Sprint, ATT, Verizon, and so on? Why not get on the tech edge of the world. WPS has already made a name for themselves by being extremely involved in the social media, what about Microsoft? They sponsor ESPNU College Town on Facebook. They're interested. What about Apple? They're always trying to be hip, even though Jobbs is old enough to break one. Point being, no major sports program has tapped into the tech sector of the US, and as all of us know...THAT IS A HUGE SECTOR! That's like the largest oil reserve being in Canada and the US getting oil from the Middle East instead (sorry, slight political moment). Point is, if it is there, the opportunity is there, then by all means take it and support it. Who knows, maybe Microsoft could gain an advantage of having to explain to the Halo freaks and the computer geeks that there is more than meets the eye...or pixel...or...something along those lines.
I am all for aiming to please little girls with pig-tails that they can be the next Mia, Solo, and Marta. However, Susie doesn't pay the bills, buy the cars, or invest in programs. You hope that in 10 years they will do that, but at this point it is no promise that they're going to break open their piggy banks to donate to a cause yet unknown. You can only buy so many kits for young girls for halloween.
I think the group that really needs to be reached in the market is teenage girls. They're fickle, I know, I've coached them and will still coach them. However, if you can give hems a reason to be interested. They can be loyal, and understand this...I KNOW NO TEENAGE GIRL THAT IS NOT AFRAID TO SPEND MONEY! Give that a thought for a minute. The idea is to be able to instill this idea in their heads that what they see on the field is honorable and possible in their own lives. Sure, any girl can play soccer, but can they play at that level, with that pressure, with that kind of media coverage (in the future world of WPS mind you)? Teenage boys...honestly...they're much easier to hook, just take them to one game. College age individuals would be my next market to aim for, the only problem with them is that most of them won't spend money.
The point is this, for too long the WPS and other women sport organizations have depended on soccer mom and her three girls for footing the bills. If you don't expand the people that you want in, you're not going to make it. Soccer mom's have crazy schedules and are running 24/7, penciling in a game that doesn't include they're child: nearly impossible. Soccer revolves around making sure there is a future group to take over. Thankfully, after the Hamm dynasty, there were several to take over, after being lead by those with Hamm that won't leave (Brandi, Abby, etc...). Eventually though, they will leave, and with the 2011 WWC coming up it'll usher in new prospects. One of them was seen during the USA vs China friendly a few weeks ago; her name is Alex Morgan and if you're careful she is going to become the posterchild of USWNT as a striker. She's young, still in college (why is she not going into WPS, anyone?), and for the boys: she's attractive, for the girls: she's who they could be, and for the armchair coaches: she's straight up good. Get her age group in, and that can really change things around.
As long as women's sport's exist, the media will forever be a challenge. I'll come out and say it now, the media is sexually biased. It has been and it will be, and trust me, this is a dude telling you this. We're told to enjoy our beer, scratch outselves, make comments to the hot, attractive bar tender (still wonder where those are), eat some red meat, and watch men's football, men's hockey, men's golf, men's basketball, and of course the real winner: NASCAR. Thank you Fox and ESPN for painting this picture that causes me to grind my teeth at night. No one wants to take the risk, no one wants to air women's games because they fear the rating turnouts will be as bad as they have been in the past. Right now ESPN is trying to dodge the bullets with espnW. The grils who love manicurs, and hate getting dirty will eat this up. The rest of the soccer world will be with softball fans calling foul (or card), as a way for ESPN to dust it under the rug.
This will be the toughest hurdle for the WPS to get over. Reaching out and giving reason for why they need to be on tv, why they should be talked about in the news, why ESPN should even touch them (aside from A. Wamback dehotdogging a guy). I don't have this answer, or a bright/witty idea for it.
All of this amounts to this final thought:
The WPS can do it.
They can make it, it's just going to require brains, attitude, and basically everything soccer is. espnW should create enough stir that ESPN will have to cover it that up.
Things are looking up for WPS and women's soccer across the nation, my fear though is that before it gets better, it might get worse.
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