Well, to be completely honest I can’t say I’m super surprised that the WPS folded. While it is heartbreaking, it has been apparent that it is….err…was going through major problems that couldn’t be fixed in time for another season to begin. Countless years in a row it made no income and little attendance ever. The few times crowds were large was when the USWNT first got back from the World Cup and the WPS Final. For a league to succeed, especially a women’s league, crowds need to be large multiple games, if not every single game. That’s one of the ways to gain income. That and marketing more, getting the name out there, they had the starts like Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Abby Wambach, but the interest by the public just wasn’t there in time. It seems the news of the WPS folding couldn’t get any worse. But we must not forget the future. It seems that the future generation of soccer players comes up every time we talk about the WPS. It’s because this league gave them something to aspire towards. Somewhere they could play against top talent, somewhere that US Soccer could look for the future soccer superstars. Soccer isn’t really a main stream American sport. And even though it is starting to gain popularity, it is often overshadowed by the NFL, NBA, and MLB. And I hate to say it, but the fact that the WPS was a women’s soccer league doesn’t really help. Society is getting better, but some people still look at sports as a “man’s world”. Obviously, it’s not true. One of my favorite soccer quotes comes from Pele, one of the greatest soccer players of all time. “When I was playing, they said soccer was a man’s world and women should remain on the sidelines. All I can say is that I’m glad I never had to go up against Mia Hamm.” After the World Cup, I will say that they have received a lot more respect and attention, especially the USWNT players.
But with the league folding, where do the girls turn who dreamed of playing in it? Sure, now the USWL and others like it are going to be the main women’s soccer leagues, but I don’t think it’s very fair that professional soccer players have to play in a Division 2 League; they deserve a professional league. I like many others wish that they could play in a league like the UEFA Champions League or MLS, that tens of thousands of people piled into the stadiums hoping to get a glance at the players, that their favorite scores a goal. This would be the best environment for a women’s soccer.
If you ask me, “Do you think there will be another league any time soon?” Truth be told, I don’t know. It took several years to transition from the WUSA to the WPS. It may take a while. We’ll have to wait and see, let things pan out on their own. For now, we just have to continue to help bring attention to women’s soccer. The US knows and loves the USWNT which is amazing, now it’s time for more professional players. The ones that might not be on the USWNT, but still are amazing players. If we can show people who have the power and the money to invest in another league that America loves women’s soccer, it will show the interest is there.
Luckily, the 2012 London Olympics are close so come this summer we won’t be missing out on our women’s soccer. Even though the WPS no longer exists, we cannot dwell on the past. We have to keep looking forward. We must use this as a learning experience, so that the folding of this league isn’t the end of a professional league in the United States. We can remember the highlights that came with the WPS, the good moments, the nail biting moments, the ones where we stood up and cheered our heads off. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need to give a women’s professional soccer league a chance, even if it has its flaws. Nothing good ever comes easy, so we can’t give up.
I’ve heard daunting rumors about the WPS perhaps folding all together. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. In 2003 the WUSA folded after lack of funding and support. The exact same thing is happening here. While soccer is definitely not a main stream American sport like football or baseball, it’s slowly becoming one. But the WPS simply isn’t where it should be or needs to be. It only had 6 teams for the 2011 season, about 2,000-5,000 people came per game, and players were barely getting paid. The MLS has about quadruple the amount of people coming out, so a WPS team would need to play four games to reach the amount of supporters per MLS game. But I’m not sure the WPS maybe folding is due to the lack of funding and support ONLY. I think there is a lack of respect as well. Things like the mind set that these women need to be back in the kitchen or women athletes aren’t actually athletes. Well, to everyone that thinks that, get your head out of the 1960s. Seriously. Society is moving, and it’s moving fast. No longer should all women be looked at as people that belong in the kitchen. They are as good of athletes as men, they have as much skill as men, and it’s time for everyone to realize that. Women have fought for so long to be where they are right now, but because of those certain people who still have that negative look on women and especially women’s soccer, they are playing a part in the WPS struggling to stay afloat. What I don’t think some people realize is that if this league folds, it will have an affect on future generations of female soccer players and our national team, whether or not we want it too. We don’t just FIND these amazing women’s soccer players like Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux. They don’t just appear one day and the coaches and scouts say, “Oh, you’re a soccer prodigy. Here, come and play for the national team.” No, that doesn’t just happen. It can take months, years, for people to get recognized and called up. Coaches and scouts go to games. They watch the players in a competitive environment, like the WPS. But if there is no league, where will the players be watched? Across the ocean? In places like Germany, Sweden, Norway, Russia? Maybe. But that’s only because the collegiate players who want to play professionally won’t have anywhere to look in the US. Players like Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, and Sydney Leroux, all on the US Women’s National Team are playing in a Division 2 soccer league right now. Does that seem fair? I didn’t think so either. They deserve to be playing in the highest, most competitive league. So why can’t they? Well, we have to admit that it’s partly our fault. We didn’t buy enough tickets, we didn’t come and support them enough. When we first heard that another professional women’s soccer league was being made after the WUSA folded, we just shook it off, ignored it. And that’s no one’s fault but ourselves. Rome wasn’t built in a day and there is no way a professional league can automatically succeed when it’s first been created. . We need to realize that we HAVE to give this league a chance. Let the future Hope Solos, Alex Morgans, Megan Rapinoes, and Abby Wambachs have the same opportunities to play in the US. So speak up, speak out, and speak loud. Tell everyone you want the WPS to survive. It’s the one thing we can do after years of doing nothing, especially when the league is on the brink of extinction, again.