Wednesday, March 11, 2009


If the league fails as did the previous US top teir women's league, the papers will turn the WPS name into WhooPS.

Starting a league right now is extremely dicey, but the cogs were moving two years ago and I guess they decided that there was no turning back. The owners have money and are of the public sort that must show it off. MLS could have probably expanded more quickly and captured some of the WPS's investors, but the MLS didn't want to go the way of the NASL. There are a couple things that the WPS has going in its favor:
∞ extreme cost controls. Travel is a necessary evil cost, but player salaries are as bad as the MLS, except without the 2-3 huge salaries per MLS team.
∞ small stadiums in which to play will create more energy than the MLS caverns.
∞ women's soccer is a quality product. The action is slower than the men's game, but in the USA where soccer is a hobby for even professionals, the slower speed may allow fans to make more sense of what they are seeing.
∞ minor league sports prove that quality is fine, but a distractionary experience is what people pay to go see. Create distraction if you want to survive, WPS.
∞ superstars from everywhere have decided to come play in the WPS. Quality may not be the only thing, but it is a thing.

And then the negatives. I am sure that the investors and league administration are seeing through rose-colored glasses, but I am also sure that they have enough people around them seeing clearly that they fully know the peril of their endeavor. Still, this is a lot to overcome:
∞ a worse time to go after discretionary dollars has not existed since 19.... I don't recall back far enough. It's just horrible timing, with no let up in the economy for maybe 10 years to come. Housing stinks, the government is broke at multiple levels, and the EPL is taking a growing number of soccer fans more interested in quality soccer than in "American" soccer.
∞ even with all the cost controls, tickets won't be free and attracting a large fee-paying audience won't be easy. The bling and concessions dollars will be way less than even the meager amount the MLS can pull in selling (now relic) Davey Beckham jerseys.
∞ too much soccer. Soccer is everywhere and with modern media, everyone watches everyone so they begin to play all the same styles, making all soccer more of just the same old same old.

Will the WPS make it, I can't say. I hope it flourishes. More soccer is, in the end, better soccer.

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