Dear US Soccer

Dear US Soccer,

Remember that last post I did?  The one where I ranted about US Soccer in a never ending spew of sarcasm and anger over having no live stream for US Women’s National Team vs China?  And then remember when US Soccer ended up streaming the game after all?

…………Oops.

Well, I guess it’s not a total “oops”.  At the time I wrote that blog US Soccer had announced there would only be Twitter updates and Match Tracker. Normally US Soccer leaves us waiting until the last minute to say if there will be a live stream or not. In those cases, I sit back and relax while all the crazies start ranting and raving.  I know US Soccer normally pulls through a few days before a match to announce a stream, so I keep calm.  But this time around they actually stated there would be no stream, and instead Match Tracker and Twitter only.  That’s when I launched into action with my own finely crafted brand of crazy and wrote a blog releasing my frustrations over the situation.

I don’t take back any previous statements I made in it.  I still think US Soccer needs to do more on their part to promote the women in order for more exposure.  Control the controllables.  I understand US Soccer can’t just demand ESPN, Fox Soccer and ABC to air every game and play only the Abby Gatorade commercial during halftime. Although let’s be honest; that would be sick.  All I’m asking is for them to keep us informed and to promise a live stream for domestic games if there is no TV coverage.  If W-League teams have the resources for it then I think US Soccer does too.  Communication is key, people.  I feel like that girlfriend who never gets told anything, so she ends up freaking out on her boyfriend over nothing just because she’s pissed that he doesn’t keep her in the loop.  I think I’ll refer to US Soccer as ‘boyfriend’ for a bit. (Affectionately, of course)

So listen boyfriend:

I’m sorry I freaked out. I was mad because you told me you wouldn’t be taking me to dinner on Sunday.  But then at the last minute Saturday night you’re all like, “Let’s go to dinner.  I was totally kidding before.”  Then I felt bad because I got so mad at you.  So please accept my apology boyfriend.  I’m super, super excited we went to dinner.  I had an amazing time and it was really sweet of you to take me after all of my complaining.  Oh, and it was made even better by the fact that we won 4-1!

Wait.  I think I mixed metaphor with real life.  Now I’m just confused.  Was Alex Morgan at the table next to us at dinner doing fist pumps?  I really shouldn’t write late at night anymore.

After all said and done I hope we’re on speaking terms again, US Soccer.  I know there are a lot of things that we don’t see and a lot of inner workings that we can’t understand.  But you have to understand; we are an exceptional group of fans who will draw blood for this team against anyone we see fit.  Reason and logic no longer come into play when we feel wronged.  We act off of impulse and Red White and Blue heated blood pulsing through our veins.  So forgive our behavior, but understand we still expect more from you at times.

When you can clue us in and when you can give us a stream or a TV broadcast we truly do appreciate it.  But don’t you think for a second that if you piss me off again I won’t dive into another rambling rant of righteousness against you.  I’m feisty; deal with it boyfriend.

I’m wishing the USWNT all the best in the coming month of matches and will thank US Soccer in advance for coverage.  I am eager to get back to writing about the team itself and their pure power and talent.  Rather than ranting about things out of my control while I throw a temper tantrum any stubborn 4 year old would be proud of.  I am also extremely eager to see “US Women’s Soccer” on my cable guide for the June 30th game. (Thanks boyfriend!!)

Forever Yours,
Amy xo

 

Beauty On And Off The Field

Ask me if I’d love to see the day when a female athlete gains more recognition for what she does in her sport than how she looks?

My answer is ‘yes, of course.’

Now ask me if I think it’s wrong for women like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan to pose either nude or with only body paint because it’s a bad reflection on them and a step backwards for women’s soccer?

My answer is ‘what the hell is wrong with you?!?’ (And that is the family friendly toned down response)

This topic gets me a little fired up.  I am more passionate about U.S. Women’s Soccer than almost anything (this of course excludes my mother’s lasagna).  I love and respect this team and the beautiful game.  I also respect the decisions of players making moves to help promote their name and the sport they play.  If an opportunity arises that allows them to do this, why wouldn’t they? Especially if it is an opportunity that would showcase the obscene amount of hours they put into getting amazing bodies.  Sure, the true pay off for them comes in the 90th minute of a game when the other team is starting to feel the ‘jell-o legs’ settle in while they’re ready to go another 90.  By all means, the hours of work they put in are to better themselves as athletes and contribute to improving their game; which it obviously does. The US Women’s National Soccer Team is probably the fittest in the entire world, and it shows on the field.  But once the final whistle blows and these players walk off with a sense of pride and accomplishment wouldn’t it also be nice to be recognized for their hard work by others as well?  Last I checked, if an artist spends every day working on a painting; perfecting it, making sure every last detail was flawless, they’re not going to light it on fire once they’re done so it’s never to be seen.  (Unless they’re like ‘Van Gogh crazy’ and the voices in their head told them to)  They’re going to hang it on a wall or sell it to a gallery.  They’re going to take pride in their work and say, “Yes, I spent endless hours of my life dedicated to this.  And because I did, I came out with a beautiful painting which I can be proud of, and now I’d like everyone to see it.” Well guess what; The USWNT and Alex Morgan and Hope Solo have been painting their asses off. They have dedicated their lives to something which they are brilliant at and that they love. Their hard work has paid off on the field and now I’m happy it’s paid off for them in these opportunities as well.

Can we also keep in mind what these photo shoots were for as well? Hope Solo posed for the Body Issue of ESPN. It’s dedicated to show off athletes at the peak of their physical fitness.  Alex Morgan posed for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition as one of only 3 female athletes chosen for it because of her toned physique.  Notice I said ESPN and Sports Illustrated, not a cheap porn site. They’re not doing anything tasteless or risqué.  They’re not going out on weekends, getting smashed and giving TMZ nip slip photos. They’re posing for sports related magazines showing that hard work pays off. People need to relax and look at the positives; that they are getting good publicity and that they are becoming household names as good, strong role models for anyone to look up to.  I haven’t even mentioned the biggest reason for why people shouldn’t care if they’re doing these shoots:  If they want to do it, and they enjoy doing it then why the hell not? They’re hurting no one and they are young and beautiful, so why not work it?  It is not up to any of us to decide if it’s “What they should be doing” or not.

With that being said, going back to my initial statement; yes, I want to see the day where female athletes are recognized more for what they do in their sport than how they look.  I will stand behind these next two statements no matter what.  In my opinion… 1) Hope Solo is the best female goalkeeper in the entire world.  2) Alex Morgan is young and has a lot to prove, but is still one of the best female strikers in the world and has the potential to become the best we’ve ever seen.  So would I like to hear people talking about them for those reasons or because of how they look? Obviously for the reasons I listed on their talent.  But the fact is, in female sports how someone looks weighs heavily on how much publicity they are given. That doesn’t change their talent level though.

Let’s say this swimsuit edition gets 500,000 people who never gave women’s soccer a second look; noticed Alex Morgan and said, “Wow, she’s hot.  Who is she?” Then they notice she plays for the USWNT. Out of those 500,000 people; even just half of them decide to check out the next game just because they like Alex Morgan now. And out of those 250,000 people: half are impressed by the skill and poise they possess in a game and decide to keep watching future games and become true fans. That’s 125,000 new fans to the game just because of a couple of beautiful pictures in a magazine.  They may watch their first game with no intention of continuing to watch, saying they just want to get a glimpse of Morgan.  But if from that, they get hooked…that’s amazing!  And if they don’t, then who cares?  It’s not going to be for everyone, but at least they are giving it the chance.  And that’s what publicity is for.  To reach new fans who may have an interest in watching, but haven’t had that one thing that has hooked them to actually sit down and watch a full game.  (These numbers are completely hypothetical to prove a point, so if you’re ready to pounce on me about them- take a Valium and go away.)

There are luckily only a small group of people who seem to have problems with these photos.  Mostly everything I have seen has been very positive and people are thrilled for them; as we should be. I’m in the front of the line waiting for female athletes to be judged less off of how they look and more off of how they play, but until that happens can’t we just be happy that we have athletes that are both gorgeous and immensely talented and being recognized for both?  What more do you people want?  Do they need some sort of magical power now too?  Hope, Alex: you heard it here first.  We not only need you to continue to be top shelf soccer players and really pretty but we also need you to fly, master time travel and breathe under water to make everyone happy.

Embrace the fact that they are getting publicity and embrace that they are phenomenal at what they do.  And oh yeah…one more thing…THEY LOOK UH-MAZING!  Congrats to Solo and Morgan for not only being some of the best female soccer players in the world but also for getting some rock star status publicity.

CALLING ALL US WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM FANS

CALLING ALL US WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM FANS

How many of you watched the game this weekend against New Zealand?  How many of you huddled around a laptop, praying you wouldn’t see the dreaded “buffering” sign come up in the middle of a brilliant play?  How many of you watched along with the 20,000+ that were in attendance in awe of this team while also in awe of how it still does not get TV coverage?

That’s what this is going to be about.  I write a lot about how amazing this team is.  I talk about their skill and their poise on the field and about how they earn their number one world ranking every time they step on the field.  But today I want to talk directly to all the other fans out there like myself who are sick of watching these games through a buffering live stream or not at all.  I don’t know about you, but if Abby Wambach goes up for a header and mid jump, my screen freezes; you better believe that computer is not going to live to see another day.  So in order to avoid the risk of multiple laptops being throw across rooms or desktops having a foot put through them, what can we do to help grow this game in media coverage?

I understand everything comes down to money.  I also understand that I don’t understand anything about the inner workings of how much money different parties make or lose under different ratings brackets.  I am not going to sit here and act like I know anything past the basics of how a station determines if they can make money off of a specific show or sporting event.  But I can sit here and say that there are numerous examples showing us that people care…that they are watching…and they are talking about women’s soccer in the US.

Women’s World Cup 2011: While the US played some of the best soccer of their lives in the Women’s World Cup final this year against Japan the whole world was tuned in on the edge of their seats cheering, watching, and oh yeah…tweeting their asses off.  During that game Twitter announced they broke the record for tweets per second.  At its peak the game was bringing in 7196 tweets per second.   I’m no expert here but that kind of seems like there is some sort of slight, vague interest there, right?

Post Women’s World Cup 2011:  When the women came back from Germany they immediately jumped into a whirlwind of interviews for everything from ESPN to Rachel Maddow to David Letterman.  Everyone wanted to talk to them and everyone wanted to know more about their journey.  Yet, after about a month of intense media coverage it seemed the media world was content to going back to forgetting they existed.  I understand we don’t have World Cup to happen every month for major soccer coverage to occur.  But if even a third of that media coverage continued in showing support for them, we could possibly be looking at a very different scenario now for how women’s soccer is covered here. Six months ago these women were national heroes who everyone wanted to talk to and now we are back to watching games online through ussoccer.com, because not even ESPN3 is picking up international games in most cases. (Which ussoccer.com deserves a BIG thank you for doing so)

USA vs New Zealand February 11, 2012:  In a soccer specific stadium that plays host to FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, the USWNT took on NZL in a friendly match.  While FC Dallas averages around 12,000 for their games the ladies sold it out with a crowd of over 20,000.  I find it interesting that a network will pick up a game that in the team’s own city a team can only bring in an average of 12,000 fans, yet no one will pick up the game turning people away at the door because they are sold out.  The fan base is growing by the day and it is being proven in games like this.  If you air it, people will watch. (Said like James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams)  On top of the stellar attendance they got, there was again big Twitter news.  Alex Morgan who is one of my favorite players and a continuing rising star of the team was trending today.  This is big news for two reasons in my opinion.  First: This game was not televised.  She was trending in the United States and also Worldwide.  So that means that there were enough people across the country and across the world who wanted to watch this game so badly that they watched it via web cast and then tweeted relentlessly about this young superstar as she scored two late goals to win the game for us.  If there are that many people tuning in online…how many do you think we would get if it were on TV?  Even fans who aren’t diehard fans are now tuning in online to watch because they need their fix of USWNT and that is a lot of times, the only place to get it. Second: I lied a little before when I said ‘Alex Morgan’ was trending.  Her name wasn’t actually trending, her nickname was.  ‘Baby Horse’ was trending.  Morgan was the youngest on the team last year when she got this nickname, hence the ‘baby’.  And due to her long beautiful strides she takes as she gallops down the field, cue the ‘horse’.  I know this because I am a fan; the only people who know this, are fans.  Which means this wasn’t a random instance of people who have never seen a game generically tweeting about how they saw a picture of Alex Morgan online and thought she was cute, or about hearing she was going to be in Sports Illustrated this month, or because they heard someone talking about her and they were asking who was Alex Morgan.  This was a large group of people throughout the US and the world tweeting specifically about her and the game today because they are fans who are watching and who know and love these players.  Also, let me remind you this was for an international friendly.  This game has no bearing on qualifying for any major tournament or overall ranking.  So what I’m saying is: It doesn’t have to be a World Cup for the US to pay attention and want to watch women’s soccer.  We are paying attention in the small games, so you better believe we will be in the big ones.

Again, let me reiterate; I am not a TV analyst of any sort, I do not know ratings compared to cost and distribution ratios.  I am just a fan and a writer who loves this game and who sees how much millions of others love this game and want to see it more appreciated.  We are a patriotic nation who loves competition and loves being number one.  Well guess what?  The USWNT is number one in the world.  This is a unique sport that is loved and played all over the world year round which we participate in and we are ranked number one in.  We have the opportunity to get behind a team who makes us proud every time they step on the field and dominate countries from every corner of the world, while representing us.  Millions have caught on and millions more will be soon to follow.  But without games on TV, and without networks like ESPN or Fox Soccer willing to even cover stories surrounding them on a steady basis; those millions are going to take much, much longer to get through to.

So what can we do?  Write to ESPN?  Write to other networks?  Yes, by all means I think the more people reaching out the better.  And take it down to that grassroots level: write to your local paper or local sports anchor.  Find the many different organizations popping up everywhere working to suport the game of soccer and grow it in the US.  Talk to other fans and friends and talk about ways to help support it.  I’m a writer and a comedian so basically, I never shut up.  But really, that is what we need.  The more talk the better.  Take pride in relentlessly talking about this team. Pat yourself on the back when you realize you haven’t come up for air in 30 minutes of talking about Abby Wambach.  Buy yourself a cookie when you reach out to other local fans to talk about ways to grow the game.  Do an Alex Morgan fist pump and jump in the air when you…well…that’s just fun to do any time.

So I’m asking you…new fans who just started watching, diehard fans who paint their faces and go to games screaming like beautiful maniacs, long time fans who ripped their shirts off right along with Brandi Chastain watching from home in 1999: What else can we do?  Keep the dialogue moving and keep reaching out to anyone and everyone you think can help make a difference.  I want to hear your ideas too.  Whether you post them here to start some dialogue or hit me up on Twitter @Gillian_E_Dubbs…either way.  Let’s talk and not shut up until we can turn on the TV, kick back and watch the beautiful game in beautiful HD of our beautiful US Women’s National Team doing some beautiful work against every country put in our path.