In recent weeks, as we’re all aware, several steps backwards have been taken in respect towards the growth of Women’s Professional Soccer inside the United States. As a hopeful, die-hard fan, like many others I have taken to the keyboard and addressed my concerns to the United States Soccer Federation. Below is a copy of that message:
To Whom It May Concern:
Rest assured that I have spent countless nights telling myself not to write to the United States Soccer Federation, but as a lover of the ‘beautiful game’, I’m afraid that like my fellow fans and colleagues I too must take action with the power of the pen.
In recent weeks it has been noted throughout the women’s soccer community that the Women’s Professional Soccer league [WPS] is struggling. Not just financially, but also in sake of facing sanctions for limiting the league to five teams based on the dismissal of the sixth; which also was on waiver from the USSF’s preference of eight. However, before we turn our eyes, bid farewell to the second generation of the W-USA, I’d like to make three points on the justification of the support of WPS.
First, we need to analyze and understand that the dismissal of the sixth team, MagicJack, was by all intents and purposes smooth action taken in part of the command of WPS. For many months there had been a struggle between one, Dan Borislow and the committee of WPS. Sanctions, fines, and other disciplinary actions were measures taken by WPS to demonstrate not just to Mr. Borislow, but also to the soccer community that this is a professional league, and like MLS, NBA, and NFL when rules are established with the bi-laws of the contractional agreement between owners and the office; these rules are expected to be followed. In the event of Mr. Borislow, no matter the players on the team, he too must be held accountable for his actions, or in many cases; lack thereof. Additionally, even though an owner is drowning in their own revenue from other expenditures, in order for a corperate entity to maintain control, money, no matter how lucrative, cannot control a league. We should applaud WPS for taking actions, by taking the risk, dissolving the program, and demonstrating to your office, to our fan base, and to the world that they’re as professional as anyone else.
Secondly, a happy-medium needs to be met in regards to WPS. It is quite apparent that this league may not be the biggest or well funded league in the world of women’s soccer. The problem that fans, such as myself, see is that we have to realize that in the beginning; even though this is the United States, we do not have to be the best, we merely need to exist for a longer span than three years. W-USA outspent themselves in record time; they never game themselves a chance to be successful based strictly off financial and economical means. With success through the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hopeful success of the 2012 Summer Olympics, and a rising rate of colleges throughout the nation adding women’s soccer as a college sport has created the niche in which professional women’s soccer can be successful, but it may take longer than three years to establish themselves inside the athletic entertainment sector of the corporate model inside the United States.
Finally, in order to be around for enough years to mold into a successful league a young league needs support. While this may sound negative, harsh, or just poor in spirit; I scratch my head often on whether or not the United States Soccer Federation even wishes for WPS to be successful. Very limited marketing has taken place for WPS, whereas millions of dollars over time has been poured into Major League Soccer [MLS] and the United States Men’s National Team [USMNT]. I applaud you for your continual involvement with the United States Women’s National Team [USWNT], but how easy is it to be profitable and grow off a program that has a ‘large tournament’ every couple years, especially when the league in which many of these players are coming from, is in large, hidden from the masses. What is being done through the USSF in order to assist in preserving and growing WPS? Waivers to extend the date in which a sixth team must be founded does not necessarily show assistance if it were all to be in vain after the waiver was concluded. Where is the money? The media support? Why do I continually hear about the USMNT beating Algeria, once again, Algeria in 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup, but hear little about the growing league known as WPS? Why do I read about the success and growth of the MLS, including the creation of the Montreal Impact, but cannot seem to find information about possible expansion for women’s soccer in the United States?
In conclusion, I would like to leave with a personal story that drives home the need for WPS. My best friend I met in college, nearly four years ago. She played soccer for our college and was recruited from Sweden. She was a great player, all conference, and did a fine job at her position. When she graduated last year she went back to Sweden and kept playing. I received a text a few nights ago from her stating that a team in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan Division 1 is interested in her playing for them in the upcoming season. Naturally, as a young player she is nervous and excited at the same time. As wonderful as that is though, she still had, has the dream of playing in the United States. Without the support though, where will she ever play?
Even more personal, where will I ever coach? I don’t coach men’s teams; I work with development of youth girls. Where am I to encourage they shoot for? Working hard to play through college, only to wind up without any options of going further once they graduate? You’ve created a successful chain of options for development of men’s soccer, but where’s the path for women? Currently, a WPS player will be paid on average 23,000 dollars; in many states not even meeting the cost of living.
I encourage you, that as you read through this letter and I’m hoping many more, that an ideology may manifest itself within you; creating this drive to make a new creation in a country where women’s soccer is excitingly well known, but sadly, rarely seen. FIFA has been called many things from corrupt, to racist, to sexist. I urge you, encourage you, to be the American ideal. Our country exists because we chose to be different from the norm. Let’s call the field a field, not a pitch. Let is be zero at half, not ‘nil’, and let’s encourage the growth of women’s soccer, not just brush it off to the side.
P.S. Care to comment to me about your thoughts in regards to WPS, USSF, and every other letter in the alphabet? Let me know over at @CoachDaugherty