I have a friend – - of the female persuasion – - whose daughter played high school soccer and who now plays for her college soccer team. I have never seen the daughter play, but since she is not on an athletic scholarship, my guess is that she is not the next Abby Wambach. But, you never know… After I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the success of the US Women’s team in the Olympics might generate a call for a women’s pro league in the US and that such leagues had been nothing but failures in the past decade, I got an e-mail from my friend with a challenge in it. Here is the pertinent section of that communique:
“…you are always the outside the box thinker in the room. Stop telling me what didn’t work and won’t work and tell me what might work because it is a different league.
“I enjoy watching [daughter] play and I have come to enjoy watching women’s soccer even when [daughter] is not playing. I am not a “fanbase” but I am the start of a fanbase. How can they make a league for me to follow?”
My first inclination was to pretend I never got that e-mail and to just let it slide. Hercules did not have a choice when it came to his Twelve Labors; the gods controlled his fate. I could have just ignored this one and let the matter slip into e-mail oblivion quietly and safely. However, the question posed is an interesting one – - so long as it does not require me to invest my IRA funds in the venture. So, after two weeks or so of rumination, here is a different approach to a women’s pro soccer league.
In the past – - and continuing to today if you consider the W-League – -, women’s soccer where the women represent cities in the US and where the women’s national team talent is spread out over six or eight teams in the league does not draw flies. However, there does seem to be interest in and a following for the US Women’s national team. So, maybe what might work is a World Women’s Professional Soccer League – the WWPSL. Consider that there are already viable – - if not gigantic – - women’s pro soccer enterprises in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Great Britain and Brazil. The presence of a women’s league in Brazil would suggest to me that Argentina would have one to just because Brazil has one – - but I cannot confirm its existence.
Given the success of the Chinese and Japanese teams in Women’s World Cup and Olympic competition, I have to think there are active women’s soccer programs there too. Add the US and Canada to that list and you have about a dozen countries with some kind of women’s soccer activity/interest. So, perhaps the way to go is to create a World League with teams representing the various countries or areas of the countries. If you got ten countries to sign up and each country put two teams in the league, there would be a “Table” of 20 teams. [Aside: If I am going to pretend to establish a “World League”, I should at least adopt some of the “World Terminology” and call the league standings a “Table”. However, I will still refer to the sport as “soccer” because my spell checker shrieks at me when I type “futbol”.]
The English Premiere League has 20 teams; La Liga in Spain has 20 teams; Serie A in Italy has 22 teams. It would appear as if that would be the right size for a league and the 20 women’s teams in my hypothetical WWPSL could play their games in the various parts of the world where teams exist when the weather conditions were most beneficial. In November/December, play the games in South America; in June/July, play in Norway/Sweden. If each team played every other team twice, that would yield a 38-game season to be followed by a single elimination tournament for the top eight teams.
One major hurdle to cross would be to convince countries with active women’s soccer programs to drop what seems to be comfortable for them and to join in this WWPSL venture. Without their active participation, this idea is DOA. Can that be done? I have no idea, but here is what I do know. If no one asks them the question, they will never provide an answer…
So, to my good friend who issued the challenge, that is the best I have come up with after thinking on the problem for a couple of weeks. I do not know if it would work but I do know that splitting up the US Women’s Team and spreading that talent around over enough teams to make what looks like a soccer league here in the US has not worked at all.
Too bad that Warren Buffet’s daughter is not a college soccer player who did not have the option to pursue women’s soccer as a profession…
Switching gears, the Miami Dolphins released Chad Johnson after Johnson was arrested on charges involving domestic violence when he allegedly head-butted his wife – - the one he married about 6 weeks ago. According to reports that surrounded news of his arrest, the altercation began when his wife found a receipt for a box of condoms in the car and confronted Johnson about it. Johnson claims that it was his wife who head-butted him. The way this looks now, if you took the UNDER on that marriage lasting 1 year, the ticket you are holding looks golden.
Some folks have said that the Dolphins were too quick to cut Johnson because there is still some uncertainty about what happened and that the legal process has not played out. Maybe they are right; maybe this is an example of a new head coach trying to demonstrate that he is in charge of the situation and that no player is outside the ambit of his rules and his control. Here is what I hope is the message that goes around the NFL grapevine:
If you are going to be an anti-social ass and you expect your team to back you up and keep you in their employ, you damned well better be an outstanding contributor on the field. What you did 5 years ago is not relevant; you have to be a critical contributor on the field today for teams to put up with antics like domestic abuse or shenanigans with firearms or whatever.
The best days of Chad Johnson’s career are in the rear view mirror. He is still capable of playing in the NFL but not as a dominant WR. The reality is that there are plenty of players out there who can be “supporting WRs”, so the burden of baggage that a team should be willing to bear for one of them ought to be minimal. If Chad Johnson remains unemployed for a while, – - just as Plaxico Burress remains unemployed as of this morning – - maybe the downturn in their careers will serve as a positive message for other NFL players with regard to anti-social behaviors. We can only hope…
Here is what Greg Cote had to say in the Miami Herald about Chad Johnson’s performance in the Dolphins’ first exhibition game BEFORE the alleged head-butting incident:
“Chad Johnson dropped the only ball thrown to him. New rule: Loquacious Chad must shut up until he does something on the field worth talking about.”
Finally, here is one more comment from Greg Cote about that same Dolphins’ exhibition game loss to the Bucs:
“Miami’s pass defense was weak. Longstanding NFL rule of thumb: Your secondary stinks if it is torched by a QB named “Dan Orlovsky.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………