Taking A Challenge – - Or Taking The Bait?

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………

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Comments

  • Peter  On August 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

    There is obviously a vast, patriarchal conspiracy to suppress the millions of people who are ready and willing to pay money to watch women play professional soccer. That can be the only reason why the first two attempts at women’s professional soccer leagues have failed so miserably.

    • Peter  On August 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      “…watch women play professional soccer in the United States,” I obviously meant.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Peter:

    Your satire is appropriate here. My suggestion here only sought to find another way to present women’s soccer to a US sporting audience that might garner a bit more interest. I would not invest in such an enterprise, but at least it is something different from the previous attempts of the past decade.

  • Helen  On August 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Is there presently a viable women’s professional soccer league in England, France, Spain, or Italy? How about Brazil and Argentina? I’m from Canada, where “everyone” plays hockey so I will use a hockey analogy. Despite a huge fan base of hockey in general, women’s professional hockey is not really viable in Canada. Other than relatives of the player, men simply do not watch women play hockey. Other than relatives of the player, most women do not watch anyone play hockey. Oh yes, there are female hockey fans, but if they are not watching their kids play, they all seem to be watching the same game as their husband/boyfriend/son. In other words, they are watching the men play. Football is huge in the U.S. Yet the only women’s professional football league is the Lingerie Football League, where women play in the bare essentials, more of a spectacle than a game. Obviously, they are drawing fans that are not solely interested in the athletic abilities of the players. How is that league faring? Would you take your kids there to watch a game?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 14, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Helen:

      Welcome aboard.

      There are women’s soccer leagues in the countries you mention. (I presume there is one in Argentina but cannot find it myself.) The leagues in Europe tend to ride on the coat-tails of highly successful men’s soccer clubs. Here in the US, men tend not to want to watch women’s sports on TV and they surely do not turn up in huge numbers at the stadium for women’s sports. The problem for women’s sports in the US historically is that women do not show up in meaningful numbers to see women’s sporting events either.

      Actually, there has been a Women’s Pro Football League in the US for a while in addition to the Lingerie League. Neither of those leagues has established a fanbase that numbers in the hundreds of thousands of fans in the teams’ local areas. My sons are 39 and 36 years old. They do not need me to take them to games any more. More directly, neither of them demonstrates even a fleeting interest in Lingerie Football or Women’s Pro Football.

      Thanks for the comment. Coming up with some way to try to make women’s soccer more popular in the US was not an easy assignment. I gave it the best I could come up with.

  • Rich  On August 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Chad Johnson has hit the ‘release trifecta’. In just about a week he was released from jail, then released from the Dolphins, and released from his reality show. But wait! There’s more! His newlywed bride is filing for divorce, which will release him from his marriage. What a week!

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Rich:

      In no way am I going to try to make Chad Johnson out to be some kind of “great catch” for womanhood out there. Having said that, given what I have read about his newlywed wife, I don’t think he would be losing any great prize should that divorce action result in a severing of those marital bonds.

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