BY PATRICK MacDONALD
The U.S. Women’s Soccer team went into Wembley Stadium looking for World Cup redemption last Thursday. Oddly enough, the match took a familiar course, though the roles were reversed. This time around the Japanese dominated a U.S. side that clearly was lagging after it’s marathon with Canada. Japan had a number of near misses that easily could have sunk the Americans. However, when it was all said and done, a Carli Lloyd brace held up and the U.S. took home the Gold.
With these games making stars of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan while continuing to shine a light on those like Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, the question to be asked is how does one capitalize?
For those who may not know, there is no professional Women’s soccer league. In fact, many of those same people may not be aware that there even was a Women’s professional soccer league that played for three seasons from 2009-2011. Currently, half the women that make up the best women’s national team have no professional setting to ply their trade.
With Women’s soccer getting plenty of national exposure on major networks between last year’s World Cup and these Olympics, it would seem like the time to capitalize on that exposure would be now. Yet any talk of a new Women’s league is for the 2013 season.
By then, it maybe too late. Waiting a full year to capitalize on interest is a folly. People will forget the Olympics by next summer. More importantly, so will broadcasters. The WPS suffered many problems but one of them which is the death knell of any professional sport was it’s lack of visibility, particularly on television. Some will suggest that this can be offset by tying the league to MLS. However, MLS is merely stable at this point – it cannot afford to take a loss on a Women’s league much like the NBA does with the WNBA.
With the sport of soccer growing in this country, and the women’s side of it being quite exciting, there will definitely be a place for it one day. However, waiting a full year following the Olympics is a missed opportunity. In 2013, there will be no grand event in the national psyche where the women’s game can be put on display and interest in a Women’s league could build. Instead, its more likely the league will be once again plagued with low attendance and sparse media coverage. One can only hope that the owners are willing to hold down the fort and eat the losses until the World Cup and Olympics raise awareness once again. Because our women, deserve better.