If You Don’t Know What WPS Stands For-Go Sit In Time Out

 

Think back to July 10th, 2011. Where were you the moment Abby Wambach’s fantabulous head buried a cross in the back of the net behind a stunned Brazilian goalkeeper? I was sitting in front of my TV weeping like a little child over a lost imaginary friend. But instead, tears of joy. This is no shock because I have been a devout fan of women’s soccer since I could say the word soccer. (My verbal skills weren’t killer so this came a little later in life than you would expect, but you get the picture) The thing that was incredible to see though was the fans this moment gained for women’s soccer who hadn’t given it a second look before. The whole country stopped, watched, screamed, cheered and Tweeted their asses off. Now I have a question for you all…

Did someone forget to send out the memo to the country that these women play in a professional league here also?

During the Women’s World Cup there was enough women’s soccer spirit to fly the women’s soccer sleigh around the world. (It’s Christmas time…bare with me on the themed analogy) And the support for them when they came home from Germany continued with TV interviews and people taking a genuine interest. While our girls were all the way in Germany battling it out, the whole country was behind them. They could feel the support from thousands of miles away. So if we can support them from across the pond, why can’t we support them when they’re in our own back yard?

Women’s Professional Soccer (which is in fact, WPS…for those of you sitting in time out) saw a very positive increase in ticket sales including a 15,000+ crowd for the first game back in Rochester, NY after the Women’s World Cup. Yet, the league came inches from folding recently. I would say “it’s time to put your money where your mouth is” but I hate that expression. I’m not putting my money anywhere near my mouth. Do I look like I want to get hepatitis? But essentially, that’s what we need. (Money…Not hepatitis) If you say you became a fan of women’s soccer during the World Cup, now is your time to prove it. I understand the World Cup is a higher level of excitement than any league can offer. But it doesn’t change the level of talent, skill, determination and poise that they play with. That will all still be there when you tune into WPS on TV or head to a game.

This past week I was lucky enough to catch a short documentary by Jun Stinson called “The 90th Minute” (www.the90thminute.net to see the trailer and learn more). It was a look at the lives of three professional players and what it’s like to play for WPS. It gives a glimpse into what a true athlete with pure love and admiration for a sport looks like. Not only was it beautifully done, entertaining and informative but it also brought up the question that all women’s soccer fans are racking their brains trying to figure out; WHY? Why is this league having such a hard time finding success? I spoke to Jun after viewing it and thanked her for putting together such a great documentary. More people need to get involved with out of the box ideas like this to support the league and raise awareness for it. There are far, far too many people who will still give you a dumbfounded look when you use the acronym, WPS.

So here are two of many thoughts I have on the whole thing…

Let’s be honest; the sports world is no longer separate from Hollywood. Sports and Hollywood are now combined into the celebrity couple Spollywood. They haven’t adopted any babies from third world countries yet, but they have taken a whole lot of NBA, NFL and MLB players under their wing. When I see basketball players at red carpet events I don’t know if it’s because they’re promoting a new album that Timbaland is producing, because they play for the Lakers, or because they’re Kim Kardashian’s latest husband. They are not only athletes, but ‘A list’ celebrities reaching people who don’t even watch the sport they play necessarily. Hope Solo took a brave leap into this world by partaking in Dancing With The Stars which I hope will act as a gateway drug to more publicity through TV and Hollywood. Every time one of these women appear on a show (not sports related) that is a huge success in my book. The talent in the league is undeniable; it’s there. But now because of the newlywed, Spollywood, the league needs publicity in other media outlets. It’s time that people got to see the fun personalities of these women so they can relate to them and be drawn in. Individually they do a great job of marketing themselves. I just hope to see extra support for them to continue doing it through more media outlets to reach more people. (Ellen DeGeneres, I am still waiting on a call back from you to get some women’s soccer love all up in your show. I’ll assume you just lost my number, it’s ok. No hard feelings. But seriously…call me.)

Next, I hope WPS remembers that people over the age of 13 are the ones paying for the tickets and merchandise and therefore need to be marketed to. We get it, WPS; young girls love women’s soccer. But so do young boys, adult men, adult women, elderly men, elderly women and dogs of all ages! (Proof: My parents’ dog completed a glorious victory lap after Alex Morgan’s goal against Japan and also watched a Lauren Cheney interview with me. For research purposes she is a 2 year old female mutt and seems to really be drawn to Cheney and Morgan…and her red ball) It is a professional league, yet through their marketing it looks more like a D2 college league. I’m not saying to neglect the younger female demographic by any means because they truly are at the heart of the fan base. These are the girls who dream to someday be a part of this league, so we cannot underestimate their true dedication and love for it. All I am asking is that it isn’t made out to look like they are the only fans showing up to these games on their way back from a Justin Bieber concert.

If you watched any of the Women’s World Cup this summer and can say that you found it entertaining, give the WPS a chance. There is no gold medal on the line, it is not an epic competition held once every four years and it will not give you the chance to scream, “Suck it! Go home Brazil!!!” at the TV like a crazy person. (Was that just me??) But it will give you the same brilliant athletes from our US squad plus many amazing international players as well; all playing at the highest level of the beautiful game. If you say you supported them in the Women’s World Cup you can support them in the Olympics next summer and most importantly; in the WPS. Buy season tickets, watch the games and buy all the merchandise that your little soccer heart desires.

In short, as they say…let’s all get hepatitis! Put your money where your mouth is.

 

Published by

Amy Maestri

Writer / actress / producer.

2 thoughts on “If You Don’t Know What WPS Stands For-Go Sit In Time Out”

  1. I'd love to put my money where my mouth is (ew), but the league is not giving us enough in return. I live in Kansas City, so we don't even have a WPS team, but I always say that I would be first in line for season tickets if we did. While I would support a team here, it would still be difficult to find many other supporters because long gone are the days where I want to go sit on some hard bleachers on a crappy field that may or may not have the soccer lines painted over and around the football lines. I don't want to watch a professional league play in a high school or D2/D3 college stadium. I want to know what the league is doing to make this a legitimate professional sport. Calling yourself a pro league and hiring pro players doesn't cut it. We also need pro venues, pro commentators, pro sportscasts, and pro marketing.

    I do not want to go to a game and be surrounded by dozens of shrieking pre-teen girls. I love going to SportingKC games at a gorgeous, packed stadium, and drinking and chanting with all the other supporters. WPS needs to market to adults. Did you hear me WPS? WE ARE YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC.

    I am fully aware that the league has no money, but fans aren't that interested in charity cases. WPS needs to find a way to make some deals because expecting to routinely get 15,000+ fans in the crappy stadiums that the teams currently play in is ridiculous. If they ever want to grow past the 2,000 fan base then things really need to change. Money (what little there is) needs to be spent on the right things to bring more fans in and to keep them coming back.

    Crappy broadcasts aren't going to get people to take out their wallets to buy an actual ticket. Spend money to make money is as true in sports as it is in business. If you don't have the money, then use whatever commodities you do have to get the job done. 2 more seasons like the past 3 and the WPS will be over for sure.

    I appreciate articles like this telling fans to get out there and support the league, but I think the league needs to step up first in order for the fans to "put their money where their mouth is."

    Cheers.

  2. Hey, thanks for reading! I agree with a lot of your points and especially that we need better venues. It is happening though (slowly) but it's happening. The Flash play in a soccer specific stadium in NY, and although other teams play in college venues currently they are still nice venues, just not soccer specific. They do need more specific stadiums for this league, I agree. But without the revenue coming in we can't expect them to be playing in larger stadiums just yet. I want nothing more than to see WPS filling larger pro venues in years to come but it's just not plausible right now. WPS definitely needs to do more on their end in figuring out their marketing strategies and a better business plan to bring in more sponsors and revenue but it still comes down to fan support. If everyone waits for WPS's next move before saying they'll support the league we'll be saying good bye to WPS pretty quickly.

    I say we need each side to step up together. While fans put their money on the line and show their support the WPS needs to match us by being smarter with their money and giving us a reputable league. Can't be one or the other and they need to go hand in hand with timing.

    More TV coverage, better (and more) sponsors and marketing to adults would be the three things I hope for this season to help it grow.

    Thanks again for reading and for contributing some feedback.

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