Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Weekly Women's Sports Pitch
I am very excited to present my first guest post. This post was written by Chaz Vukotich, who is not only an obsessive sports fan and a feminist man but also my boyfriend. He was very excited to write this post and I hope it will be a recurring weekly topic on this blog. I see it as variety--I am no sports fan except for college basketball (Go Panthers!) so I hope you enjoy this different perspective on women and the world. Also, as always, if you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog just let me know.
Hi. My name is Chaz. Although I would consider myself to be a feminist, I’m not really knowledgeable about most of things that you’ll typically see on this blog. So when my girlfriend, the main author of this blog, asked me to write some things for her, I was a little hesitant. I intend to write what I know, which is sports. And this blog being what it is, I’m going to focus on women’s sports. Hopefully, this should be a semi-regular contribution on topics in women’s sports, and if you read them (and I actually write enough of them), you should see some interesting things.
The question I thought most important to answer in my first attempt at blog posting is why women’s sports matter. First and foremost, women’s sports can be just as exciting as men’s sports. If you consider yourself to be a true sports fan that question can go out the window. The bigger part of the question is why women’s sports matter to those who aren’t sports fans. Rise in athletic participation amongst women and girls has accounted for a number of health and behavioral benefits in high school, collegiate, and recreationally athletic women. The truth is that if these girls and young women have no role models to look up to they will not continue to participate. Public disinterest will only erode the benefits that have been gained more quickly.
So for the first installment of this column I’m going to discuss Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). Since 2009, the league featured between five and seven teams containing most of the best women’s soccer players in the world, including most of the United States and Brazilian Olympic teams from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When you added in all the other foreign nationals who came to the US to play, the league featured some of the most concentrated soccer talent in any league in the world, men’s or women’s. The average attendance for all games played over the first three seasons was 3,982. For comparison, the average attendance for MLS (Major League Soccer) was 16,953 for the same period. The NFL’s average attendance for 2011 was 67,394.
This year, there will be no WPS.
The biggest factor behind the closing of WPS was the behavior of the owner of the MajickJack club located in Boca Raton, Florida. The team owner refused to follow minimal operating procedures, leading to the club’s eventual folding. USA Soccer, the national governing body, has rules which state that leagues must have no fewer than six clubs to maintain their standing. Given all of this, WPS chose to suspend the 2012 season.
You might say that these are all technical issues that have no bearing on the fact that this is a women’s team. I say that the lack of interest caused an owner to not care whether his team succeeded or failed. No MLS club has folded since 2001. The last NFL team to cease operations was the New York Yanks in 1953. For Major League Baseball, it was eight teams that closed with the folding of the Federal League in 1915. The only factor that caused the team to fail is that it is a women’s professional team. That’s the real shame in all of this. It’s not less interesting, less competitive, or less fun to watch. And we’re all less fortunate from not having the league around.
So go and support whatever local women’s sports teams you might have, be they professional, collegiate, or high school. I guarantee you’ll see something worth seeing. And at the very least, you’ll let someone know that just because it’s a girls’ game, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth anything.