16 May

Is the NWSL doing its Job?

The NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) is the latest iteration or professional women”s soccer in the USA. It has been 5 years and  they are still in business, which is good. There is some expansion and only one contraction. The contraction was of a poorly managed or mismanaged Boston Breakers team and understandable. On the other hand the Portland team drew more fans than 7 MLS teams in the 2017 season. They only drew 4,000 fans a game less than USL attendance leader FC Cincinnati who would have been 6th from the top in attendance if they were allowed into the MLS, but that is another story.

Streaming games on youtube has been an interesting play to make them available in real time and accessible across devices. I am not sure how well marketed that effort is/was. Anecdotally, as club, high school, and college coach of girls and womens’ soccer teams I would think that I am in their target market and/or a gatekeeper for their target market. However, I have not received any marketing or even heard about their efforts to make games available live without at major TV contract. I only found out because I personally knew a NWSL player who told me. Seems there are missed opportunities for marketing. This was also the first time I knew that youtube had live streaming and not just videos.

Another curious issue is the lack of a Commissioner for the past year. This has seemed to cost the NWSL a place in an all-women’s sports broadcast partner and cross marketing supporters (TV channel?) SheIs. Since soccer is a primary youth sport for girls before they can play many of the other sports it seems that soccer would be a great help to providing interest in the channel. The WNBA, NWHL, USTA, CWHL, fast pitch softball league, and even the WWE among the 8 organizations participating. The NWSL is not part of the group and the lack of a Commissioner seems to player a role. Who wants to be involved with an organization that can’t even hire a boss in a timely fashion or Can’t even figure out their mission so they can agree on hiring a boss or … something? By the way, in searching for SheIs I did not find a website or other social media readily availible. I did find announcements about SheIs on other media.

NWSL players have a max salary of ~$40k and low end is ~$18k (special deals available for popular national team members – who also get paid for national team camp and game appearances). Players play because they want to play their sport and are willing to sacrifice holding a full time salaried job to do it. Part of the that sacrifice is to build the league for future generations of player – to give back. The NWSL does not seem to be raising the profile of the game of soccer or participating in increasing the profile of women’s athletics.

No, is the answer to the question. Merely, existing is not enough. Like US Soccer the NWSL is bereft of leadership and it shows.