• Rob Sheppard

    An important column. You bring up some good points. I think there is something else that you might not see from inside the newspaper. I had no idea that this game was being played. I am a long-time women’s soccer fan. I have consistently attended U.S. women’s games (including the World Cup at the Home Depot Center a few years ago). My daughter plays soccer for Azusa Pacific University and is a coach for a high school girls frosh-soph team. We used to drive down to San Diego for Spirit games in the WUSA. My daughter went to the same local schools as Shannon Box. Our motivation is obviously high. We both saw the write-up in the Daily Breeze on Sunday morning and were very surprised. Neither of us knew about the game.

    I read the Daily Breeze every day, but never saw anything about this. I admit that I can overlook things, but it is interesting that neither my daughter nor I knew anything about this game. Although I think the Daily Breeze is better than the LA Times in covering women’s sports, still, it seems that men’s sports get most of the prime attention. Often you have to really look to find anything about women’s sports on the sports pages. I suspect anything about this game was pretty buried in most papers, and probably many papers never included it at all.

    I think this is a major challenge to women’s soccer — getting regular coverage by the newspapers.

    Rob Sheppard

    Nick replies: You are right. There was no preview in the newspaper the day of the game. I did write a preview last Tuesday in my column, however, and also blogged about it on Saturday. That’s why both the column and blog exist in part; to give space to events we might overlook elsewhere – in part because there’s a perception by editors most sports fans don’t care about women’s soccer. Thanks for reading.

  • Steve

    I concur with Mr Sheppard, the publicity was sparse.

    There were more folks in attendance for the USC-UCLA woman’s soccer match at the Coliseum earlier this year.

    I was actually at the game with our Force Soccer Club girls team, it was entertaining, but most comments were about the sparse attendance. The competition for the Southern California entertainment dollars is quite fierce and to get part of the action you have to market yourself. It will be interesting to see how the new woman’s team, LA Sol will do in its inaugural season.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Rob and Nick, the federation has to do a better job of promoting these games before they occur. Rob, did you see any display ads in any newspapers for this game? I would think newspapers would be salivating over *any* revenue at the rate they’re going. How many radio spots did you hear? I heard none. The federation can’t be so poor as to give up on newspaper and radio advertising. Rob, did your daughter’s team or any of its players (both collegiate and youth) receive any notice of this game? One would think that the federation would have made at least a half-hearted attempt to reach female soccer players.

    Unfortunately, there’s also the issue of internal federation politics regarding the women’s team. Ever since “The Girls of Summer” challenged the federation over salaries and promotion following the 1999 WWC, the women’s program has been viewed as a bastard stepchild by federation officials (despite its unparalleled international success). I think they want to stick it to the women for spite. Sad, but true.

  • apsoccer01

    I completely agree with Rob, Nick and Joseph. I only knew about the game because I am a hardcore soccer fan of every level (youth club, college, pro, national) and check about 30 soccer websites daily!

    There is so much I want to say about this column and topic.

    Besides press coverage that the women’s game needs, I think the main reason the US team doesn’t have big crowds OR press coverage anymore is the simple fact…the USA doesn’t have a superstar(s) with commercial appeal. The only two candidates on the team that have that appeal are Hope Solo and Heather Mitts to be frank. Sadly both of them dont get much gametime coverage since they rarely need to see the ball as a keeper and defender (except when they play Germany and Brazil)after thinking about it, I kinda of compare the Womens US National Team to the Columbus Crew (great coach, good defense, no major superstar like a Beckham, but overall hard working team).

    If people think Abby is the superstar, they are sorely mistaken. When I say superstar I mean Mia Hamm superstardom. Abby Wambach doesn’t have the commercial appeal to a general market because she simply doesn’t have the looks.

    I personally think Natasha Kai is the best thing that’s happened to the US team mainly because she brings the ONLY kind of flair I’ve ever seen with the Women’s Team. She brings a Hawaiian tradition, tons of tattoos, and a sometimes “crazy” adrenaline.Kai might not be the best player, but I would definitely pay to see her playkinda like the Dennis Rodman of Womens Soccer (without the baggage).

    The other point..the HDC attendance is never that impressive. Ive been to numerous Galaxy/National Team games at the HDC and Ive never been to a game that truly impressed me (besides the Chelsea/Madrid games). It seems like every sell-out at the HDC always has a lot of empty seats.

    Using the US v China game attendance as evidence, WPS doesn’t look like it will average more than 4K sadly. And I do know that some of the WPS stadiums are smaller than that. Some womens college soccer teams will have a higher average game attendance than some WPS teams (i.e. Portland, Texas A&M) Overall I am extremely under whelmed by the WPS so far. Can Nick start a column on that? Where would I start?

    1. The name “WPS” is ridiculous….everyone thought WUSA sounded lame, but it’s better than “WPS”?
    2. Not partnering with the MLS (double headers aren’t enough). Let there be the W-MLS! If there was more of a partnership, I bet more of the MLS followers would definitely open their eyes more to the womens game. Look at some of those Chicago Red Star Flags at the Chicago Fire Gamesthat was awesome (at least I thought it was their flag).
    3. Horrible Team Names and Re-used Team Names (except Chicago Red Stars)? …..FC Gold Pride is the worstit sounds like a U10 soccer team and is way too much to say. I cant hear the crowd cheering Lets Go F-C Gold Pride. The owners daughters club team name.MVLA Avalanche would have been better!….plus LA Sol.is rather boring, a decent logo, but still boring.
    4. Horrible Logos…Most of the logos are way way too busy for my taste….Why the actual capitol dome for the Freedom Logo? I just saw a Washington Freedom hatand theres sooooooooo much stitching on it!! Why an intricate drawing for the St. Louis Athletic?? Reused Boston Breakers Logo…BORING!!!?……..All the WUSA logos had a very nice appear to them and their logos werent cheap. WUSA logos were way more commercial, and I would have worn any of their logos, but the WPS logos? Nope.
    5. The Puma deal is nice, but its like the Reebok of Basketballwas big before, but has fallen off. I dont see why girls or guys for that matter would want to buy a WPS puma appeal when they can just get a plain Nike or Adidas appeal thats trendier. The WPS CEO should know that these young girls and kids that are going to watch the WPS look for the next big trend.Puma? I think not? But 10 Million Deal for a league that needs it, then Im hoping it helps.
    5. The WPS website is horrible. Even the WUSA site thats still up is way better! The WPS website is very cheap looking. This whole twitter thing is rather lame, and when I joined it to view the WPS General Draft at workI only saw about like 400 people joined the WPS twitter group. With their TV deal with Fox Soccer Channel, why not broadcast the draft(s) on foxsoccer.com! I do have to say the FOX SOCCER CHANNEL deal with WPS is by far the best thing the WPS has EVER DONE.
    6. This whole allocated the rights to foreign players thing is ridiculous. The WPS is almost like Beckham-mania.People will buy tickets because they think Marta IS on the LA Sol, but when the season starts, she might not even been in the USA! If Marta doesnt come thats a huge blow for the WPS. The first season (and I hope not the last) of the WPS looks to be starting off like Beckhams Year One in MLS.Lots of people buzzing about the WPS or Marta playingwhen it might not ever happen.
    7. Joseph brought up a good point about marketing online and to youth soccer. I visited coastsoccer.com (arguably the best and biggest youth soccer league in the nation) and NO Los Angeles Sol ad or linksame to say with CYSA-North and CYSA-South state websites!

    With all that said, I will definitely be cheering all my friends in the league that Ive known since they were 12 and support my hometown teams, I just wish the league was packaged better!!! As we know in todays commercialized US economyits all about packaging.

    Hopefully some other people can share their thoughts on my very random thoughts; I am at work, so I wrote this very sporadically.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    apsoccer01, thanks very much for your comments. Some thoughts:

    1. I think WPS reached a deal w/Puma instead of adidas or Nike is because Puma and the WPS need each other; neither Nike or adidas really need WPS. Besides, Puma probably offered WPS a better deal than the other two companies.

    2. Unfortunately, I think you’re right about the “sexiness” of the WNT’s and WPS’s stars playing a role in those entities’ popularity. That’s not just “sexiness” as far as men go; if girls see that attractive women can be stellar athletes, then that helps get them involved and away from stupid stereotypes. However, I would think that today’s generation would have gotten beyond those stereotypes by now. I mean, I don’t think the WNBA has to worry about competing against that stereotype.

    3. Not seeking MLS cooperation seems suicidal. After all, the WNBA wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has w/o the NBA. Then again, MLS might not have the financial resources to help WPS. Besides, I’m beginning to question whether MLS is really run all that intelligently.