NASL commish skeptical about viability of WPS

Discussion in 'NASL' started by WhiteStar Warriors, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. WhiteStar Warriors

    WhiteStar Warriors BigSoccer Yellow Card

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  2. speedcake

    speedcake Member

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    Oh dear.

    Not that I disagree with him.

    Because I'm not so sure he should be making statements like these. At least not now.

    Any thoughts on his angle here? Do you think he does have an angle or do you think he maybe just made a mistake by voicing his opinion?
  3. drSoFlaFan

    drSoFlaFan DEFEND THE FORT!

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    I don't see a problem with it. It's his opinion and frankly he's right. People love to cheer on the ladies come World Cup or Olympics time, but selling them tickets to see the pro game is only ever doable right after such big time international events(see WPS attendance this year pre- and post-WWC).

    I went to 3 magicJack games this past year, and WPS plays entertaining soccer, they really do, especially considering that team in particular features like half of the USWNT, including most of the big stars. But honestly I just did not feel the same enthusiasm for the club as I do for the Strikers.

    I think the key to the long term viability of the league would be some kind of major partnership with MLS/NASL/USL teams in their markets. I think it would be a lot easier to forge an emotional connection to fans and a stronger following if the clubs were partners with the local men's sides. If you had the LA Galaxy WFC etc. it would be easier to get some cross over fans and get a solid following for the women's teams. As an extension of an established soccer brand, you're more likely to succeed than going off on your own IMO.

    But that's not likely to happen anytime soon.
  4. Orlando Rays

    Orlando Rays This is your world.

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    Irregardless of whether he's right or not, he's not exactly in the best position to make that kind of statement.

    I can't think of any reason for him to say it besides trying to torpedo WPS.


  5. NORML

    NORML Member

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    Really that is the only reason you can think of? Not that he was asked about the league and simply gave his honest opinion on it. That never crossed your mind?
  6. brentgoulet

    brentgoulet Member+

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    I would have gone for DIPLOMACY, not honesty, on that question
  7. song219

    song219 BigSoccer Supporter

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    Agreed.

    Unless there is some way that honesty helps NASL more than diplomacy, as commissioner there is no reason for him to make that statement.
  8. Jossed

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    I think he was speaking not as NASL commish, but as someone with years of sports business experience. Nothing he said I would disagree with. We all know the numerous problems WPS faces.

    That said, he IS the NASL commissioner. Anything he says reflects back on the league. Honesty is not always the best policy. You need to learn Commish-Speak. It doesn't benefit the NASL at all for him to be saying these things.

    And of course one could say to Downs that plenty of people are also skeptical about the viability of the NASL. It would be one thing if Don Garber were making these comments, but the NASL commish? Hell, WPS could end up outliving the NASL. The NASL and WPS are both in the same boat. They each face an uphill battle to even survive. So be a little more supportive.
  9. Green and BLue

    Green and BLue Member

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    Irregardless isn't a word. The negative prefix ir- is superfluous, as you already have the negative suffix -less at the end. With a negative prefix and a negative suffix, "irregardless" would mean without without regard. What you mean is "regardless" or without regard.

    (I had never heard anybody use "irregardless" before seeing it used in a grammar exercise in middle school. Thus, I suspect the DOLs are actually the source of this non-word!)
  10. The 92nd Fish

    The 92nd Fish Member

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    Doesn't really work. It's been tried in England and 99.9% of fans still have no interest in women's football. It's just one of those things, women's team sports are generally not well supported when there exists dominant male leagues. It's not surprising really, women's football is like watching a normal match being played underwater.
  11. Antique

    Antique Member

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    I agree. This was one of those instances where he should have kept his mouth shut or been soft & gentle in his comments. Not to do so was a mistake. IMO, we need a pro women's league. The USWNT has been the one area of this sport where we've shown a level of play above mere competence. We need a league to keep up the level of play we enjoy internationally.
    Maybe in England. Even though the women's game may be a step slower than a men's match the WPS game I attended in Boca was skillfully played with great passion by the players and was wonderfully entertaining.

    Plus, you're speaking as a man that has the good fortune of living in a place that has the game played at its highest level. Not to disparage the USA's domestic men's leagues, but MLS is not at the same level at the EPL & NASL is not at the same level as League Championship. After that the falloff is even more dramatic. For decades the highest level of the sport here has been the US women. That is now changing, but that's the way it has been since the 1980's or so (remember at the WWC in Germany last year the Brazilian women wore the 5 stars from the Brazilian men's teams WC championships on their jerseys?...Our women had 2 stars on their jerseys, including all those our men won at all those WCs they participated in...;)..)

    Love it or hate it WPS has many of the best players in the world on it's teams rosters. They play a very good game flat out for 90 minutes. Hopefully it will survive. IMvhO, we, and that is an all inclusive we, need it.
  12. AndyMead

    AndyMead America Uber Alles

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    Sort of like Sigi's recent comments about Gary Smith missing a CCL away game.

    Sure, you can feel that way, and you can make those comments.

    That doesn't mean you should. Anyone in these positions is well practiced in the art of deflecting questions they don't want to, or shouldn't answer.

    This is a case where something like "WPS definitely has their issues and things to work on, but I'm definitely focused on the issues the NASL is facing at this time."
  13. Jossed

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    I don't think the quality of the play has ever been in question. It is easily the best women's league in the world, despite only having 6 team due to so many teams folding. It is the viability of the league that everyone talks about. MLS might not be the EPL, but its viability is not in question anymore. It made it and will improve and hopefully strive to be the EPL one day(without the inequality and club debt). Compare how professional MLS is run to WPS and it is night and day. There are no Dan Borislaw clowns or magicjacks in MLS. I honestly think a WMLS is the only way to make a league work here. MLS has the infrastructure women's soccer needs.

    Sure we need a women's league. Just like we needed a men's league. But we are now supporting our men's league. We never have supported our women's league for a number of reasons. And that is why they are facing a dire situation. Puma, who was their apparel and equipment sponsor, just pulled out. The money just isn't there.

    But to the topic. Nothing Downs said was wrong. Even the glow of the WWC probably won't save WPS. It was that he shouldn't have said it since he is a representative of the NASL. A commish has to learn how to say a lot without saying anything.
  14. SiberianThunderT

    SiberianThunderT Member+

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    Been lurking on the NASL boards for a long time - was more active back when STL had a team. Thought to post in the attendance thread a couple of times just to make comparisons to WPS, though just continued lurking as I felt a bit out of the loop. But I feel things need to be said here.


    Point of order:
    True, WPS salaries have been criticized and that's something the league & players' union have been dealing with this offseason.
    True, BUT it's much closer to 50-50 now than it ever has been - for most pro men's leagues in the US, the ratio is 40-60 at least.
    ...which they certainly haven't done the past three years, as during that time the best thing to do would have been support WPS as best they could.
    SO MANY things plain wrong with this statement.
    --The only overseas women's soccer league that I KNOW is professional is the FA WSL - and no-one's pretending they can match WPS at any level, on or off the field. I don't think any of the other leages - Frauen Bundesliga, Damallsvenskan, etc. - are fully professional, despite many clubs being associated with men's clubs of the same name.
    --"Support" is ill-defined here. If you're talking financial backing, then it's probably true, as many clubs are supported by the men's club of the same name. However, if you're talking popular support (i.e. attendance, etc.) then WPS is still tops. I've checked both FA WSL and Frauen Bundesliga, and very few clubs have regular attendances above 1k.
    --Also, if you place our WNTers in foreign leagues, the chances that they see the level of competition they'd get from playing other WNTs (or from playing in WPS) is slim to none, as aside from Germany and Sweden, most women's leagues have one or two teams that basically own the league.
    I hope his "50 matches" here is an intentional exaggeration. Even in Europe, where there are league cups and a women's champions league, both of which only add many games for just a few clubs, most women's teams play less than 30 games per season.
    In terms of not getting cash return, PUMA really didn't help themselves either, though. None of the posters on the WPS ever said getting WPS merch was easy - often there was never WPS merch in any PUMA stores they visited. And FWIW, the notion that PUMA would pull out surfaced quite a while ago, and yet no-one at WPS seems to have been phased for the past couple months.
    But yes, funding will always be an issue, at least for the forseeable future.
    I'm not if you can attribute it to WWC "glow", but WPS is definitely going to be around for at least another year, and probably two. Both on Twitter and at a PHI event recently, all signs from various WPS owners/managers/connections have said 2012 is set. Not only will all six teams return, but at least one more team (sounds like in Hartford, CT, but apparently there's a rumor about NYC?) will join for this coming summer, and three west-coast teams should be signing letters of intent for 2013 soon.
  15. speedcake

    speedcake Member

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    that's great, three new teams in the next two seasons. But what are they doing about making the league sustainable and increase popularity? Our Women's National Team has been good for ages, champions often, and it has never translated into enough interest in Women's pro soccer to keep a league going for more than a handful of seasons.

    I agree with the idea that a W-MLS is probably the best bet, but even then it can't happen any time soon as you would assume MLS would want all or at least most of its teams to be stable and profitable first.

    We still have a ton of work in the U.S. to make the men's game viable and profitable, the women's game just has it's work so much more cut out for it.
  16. CHHSfan

    CHHSfan Member

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    I don't know if the NASL is that much better off than WPS right now. Our league hinges on whether the San Antonio organization makes enough money to help their theme park, and from D2's history, I won't be surprised if they look to sell early. But it leads me to another question: Would you support a women's professional team if it was the only pro team near you?
  17. Heggis27

    Heggis27 Member

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    I echo his sentiment as an American without the men's game being played at the highest level, but with the women's at the highest level. I posted this on another message board on July 8th, two days after the Women's World Cup group stage concluded and a day before the first quarterfinal game:

    Perhaps it's not as evident to someone who hasn't played the game, but it drives me crazy. At least the WNBA (not that I'd watch it either) can claim to be fundamentally different from the NBA due to its having to be played below the rim. Men's and women's soccer are the same game, but one of them is far slower.


    Americans will watch a Team USA in almost any sport, especially if it has a chance of winning. That's why the women's team is where it is and WPS is where it is....and WUSA is where it is.
  18. speedcake

    speedcake Member

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    It might not be that much better off right now, but the potential certainly seems much higher. Attendance is lower, but as the NASL moves forward (and hopefully without sanctioning issues slowing the process) we should see the gap close.

    Regardless, it isn't fair to compare the two really. Is it? WPS is the women's equivalent to MLS. NASL is a 2nd division and very much inferior to MLS.

    Regarding whether or not I'd support a women's pro team if it were the only choice, that is an interesting question. I probably would, it's soccer, but I won't lie and say I wouldn't wish every day that I had a men's pro team to support.

    I also can't stomach the WNBA.

    However I enjoy very much the Women's World Cup, for obvious reasons.
  19. AndyMead

    AndyMead America Uber Alles

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    Basically, WPS is a race to survive long enough for MLS team owners to get involved.

    As MLS teams begin to take over (or at least co-brand) the youth leagues in their markets, they're providing a career path (however remote the reality) for the boys - get noticed and get on the select youth teams, maybe get into the team academy and eventually the big club.

    We've already seen three clubs (Vancouver, Dallas and DC United) extend the women's side of the equation up to the summer college player amateur level. (PDL/NPSL equivalents)

    At some point, I can see some of them making the jump to having or sponsoring women's pro teams as part of a long-term effort to infuse the club brand within the local market.

    Definitely not every MLS team, but I can see some MLS owners getting involved. If WPS can survive long enough for that to happen, I think it'll survive for the medium/long term.
  20. AndyMead

    AndyMead America Uber Alles

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    Men's teams have always had an advantage over women's teams when it comes to local sponsorships - which are often the lifeblood of minor league sports.

    Unfortunately for both WPS and NASL, the economy, combined with the shift of advertising dollars from print/phonebooks to internet has slashed a lot of sponsorship budgets. WPS's biggest financial problem has been that, despite the far more realistic business plan it has over its predecessor, the amount of local team sponsorship dollars has been way, way, way off of what WUSA teams received. Then again, D2 teams today don't get nearly the local sponsorship revenues of D2 teams from 10 years ago, either.

    It's odd. My team that I live and die with is Sporting Kansas City. But I have always been a fan of the Carolina RailHawks - I did want KC to beat Carolina in the USOC two years ago (they did). That said, I dearly miss the Carolina Courage. They were every bit as much "my" team as the Wizards/Sporting are. If the RailHawks disappear, I'll miss them - but not like I miss having Courage games to go to.
  21. AndyMead

    AndyMead America Uber Alles

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    The other interesting thing about the WPS this is year is that the teams were all "all-in".

    USSF dictates that every professional team escrow a "completion bond" that can be used to pay to keep a team afloat through the end of the current season if ownership fails. There are usually stipulations that the bond pool from the league can be accessed under the idea that it is in the best interest of all the teams in the league.

    In fact, the bond was part of the issue that held up sanctioning for the NASL.

    What the WPS last October/November was different. They raised their bond level to the point that each team's bond would cover that team for a season. Basically, they committed to paying the cost of the 2011 season up front. I think we were all surprised when Gold Pride and the Red Stars dropped out. But better that than to have them follow Athletica's mid-season lead.

    I haven't heard if they're doing that again, but I think they should. It definitely forces a commitment. Verbally saying you're in for the long haul or a set term is easy. Paying the full amount in advance of any revenues is something else.

    If NASL teams agreed to do that amongst themselves, I'm not sure we'd still have a league.
  22. lisab

    lisab Member

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    At least the WPS kept their Twitter page updated during their championship game. Unlike the NASL during the last playoff game between NSC and Carolina they went to PK's and.......so stones and glass houses.
    NASL
    @NASLofficial NASL
    AET: score still tied on aggregate, we're going to PKs
  23. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator Staff Member

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    Here's my take. The budgets and cost between a NASL and WPS team is pretty similar. I think his angle is that they get some prospective WPS owners to buy a NASL franchise instead. That's just my take and opinion.
  24. SiberianThunderT

    SiberianThunderT Member+

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    From someone who had the possibility of experiencing both, for however short a time (and see them both come crashing down): You're off by a factor of three or four there, bud. ;-)
  25. The 92nd Fish

    The 92nd Fish Member

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    I've actually never watched a woman's game in England aside from the odd FA Cup final which is all of the woman's game that is broadcast in England aside from the World Cup. What I have watched is the Women's World Cup both in 2007 and 2011 and it's pretty horrible standard even at the pinnacle. I mean it's great if you're a fan of women's soccer but if you're just a general soccer fan then it's probably played at a worse standard than English League Two.

    I don't really see the argument here. Yes the WPS has probably the best standard of women's football in the world but it's still inferior to the male game, even at MLS standard (which I think is actually high Championship level, I think you were a bit harsh on it).

    Women's soccer does have a much bigger market in the USA than in England but it's still a niche variant of a still somewhat niche sport. The national team does well because they're the national team and have been successful in the past but people won't turn out in large numbers and on a regular basis to watch WPS when they have MLS on their doorstep or top class European football on TV. Only the hardcore will and they're simply not big enough to support a league profitably. Linking MLS or NASL teams to the WPS won't help either, they'll just be reduced to a subordinate role to the men's team and not seen as much else. MLS teams certainly aren't going to heavily promote women's soccer when any fans they draw towards it will be spending money there instead of at the primary (male) team. They'd just be cannibalising their own audience. Much more likely is MLS teams running small women's teams at minimal expense such as Vancouver and DC, these kind of teams are never going to be amazingly popular and will rely totally on the subsidy of the parent team and their general goodwill to women's soccer.

    Women's team sports simply don't sell as well as men's because of their inferiority. The USA is slightly different in that historically in the 80s and 90s the women's game was much more popular than elsewhere but those days are over and even in their heyday they couldn't draw consistent numbers like MLS does now. I'd love to see a professional and thriving women's team sport league but history and the sport attending public's preferences are very much against it and it's in no MLS team's interests to sink much money into the sport other than for altruistic purposes.

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