September 15, 2003

WUSA calls it quits.: After just three seasons in business, women's professional soccer is gone in the United States. Is this another blow to footy's popularity in America, or is it more indicative of the financial times?

posted by wfrazerjr to soccer at 04:09 PM - 48 comments

One of the better teams was right here in the heart of soccer country and just like the Quakes could not draw more than 7500 on average. Sad that the ownership is not willing to sink more in to keep the ship afloat.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:11 PM on September 15

As much as I love soccer, I certainly don't think we need three front-page posts. I'm not sure what happened there, but please ditch two of those. I think you answered your own question, Bill. Why would ownership continue to sink money into this business when it's been shown it won't draw enough fans to be self-sufficient? I think it's a damn shame, because I thought the level of play was pretty good. Too bad it happened right before the Women's World Cup, also.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:14 PM on September 15

Okay, since the top two threads are probably going to be gone...i'll repeat what i said in the first one... Don't get me started...

posted by StarFucker at 04:19 PM on September 15

Another reason it's a damn shame is the salary cuts that some of the larger stars like Mia Hamm and her ilk took going into this most recent season in an attempt to help keep the league afloat. I'm afraid this doesn't bode well for either the WNBA or MLS. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

posted by Ufez Jones at 04:27 PM on September 15

The trouble is, not even established footballing countries like England, Germany or Brazil have professional women's leagues. I don't believe there was ever any reason to believe a woman's league could survive in the States, either. For that matter, would the WNBA have lasted this long without the clout of the NBA behind it?

posted by salmacis at 05:16 PM on September 15

Oh, GOD no, Sal. The WNBA would have crumpled up and blown away long ago if the NBA were not completely propping it up. It's not that I dislike the women's game I actually prefer women's basketball, because they actually PLAY the game, with set offenses and stuff, as opposed to this clear-out, no-jump-shooting bullshit that passes for hoops in the NBA. No, no, Fooker ... let's get this party started. Right?

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:35 PM on September 15

My thinking was that any big new venture will not be making money in the first few years and the owners should expect to invest for the longterm. As the NBA appears to be doing with the WNBA. The executives who started WUSA should have had a 10 year plan, where year 9 or 10 was the first to make even the slightest profit.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:23 PM on September 15

It's really unclear how they expected a women's league to make money when the men's league is only barely solvent.

posted by tieguy at 11:19 PM on September 15

I'm surprised, though, that this cut couldn't wait until after the women's World Cup, starting soon here in the States. That event would/could have rekindled interest; now, it's going to be almost a bittersweet going-away party for women's soccer (post-collegiate).

posted by msacheson at 11:49 PM on September 15

Yeah, the timing sucks.

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:22 AM on September 16

Have any of you seen a womens game? They can't play, pure and simple. I am amazed there were any paying customers.

posted by Fat Buddha at 06:42 AM on September 16

Same with WNBA... I'd rather do chores.

posted by StarFucker at 08:33 AM on September 16

I've never watched a WUSA game, but if it's anything like a WNBA game, their is more passing and more teamwork than in the men's game. Of course, men's soccer hasn't really been corrupted to the extent that the NBA has, so the comparison probably isn't quite apt. But still- having seen the Carolina women play in college, I really doubt that they 'can't play' in any important, non-sexist-asshole meaning of the term, unless they've regressed from where they were then.

posted by tieguy at 08:34 AM on September 16

I watched several Women's World Cup matches last time around. Seemed watchable enough to me.

posted by rcade at 09:00 AM on September 16

I did as well, rcade, and plan to in the upcoming weeks of the Women's World Cup. The only WUSA match that I saw though was the all-star game, which was fairly enjoyable as well. To me, though, the saddest part is this takes away another set of potential role-models for the young girls of today. Another set that aren't shellaced with make-up and botox and dressed like Beverly Hills hookers. If/When I have a daughter someday, I would've loved to have had something like the WUSA around.

posted by Ufez Jones at 10:15 AM on September 16

To me, though, the saddest part is this takes away another set of potential role-models for the young girls of today. Another set that aren't shellaced with make-up and botox and dressed like Beverly Hills hookers. If/When I have a daughter someday, I would've loved to have had something like the WUSA around. You can only blame women for the lack of success of the WUSA and the WNBA. Women's leagues somehow keep trying to court men to watch their games when there's 50% of the population that are very receptive to women's sports yet somehow don't support the leagues in large enough numbers for them to be sustainable.

posted by gyc at 11:57 AM on September 16

Starfucker, does EVERY post you do have to slam women? WE GET IT. YOU DON'T LIKE WOMEN IN SPORTS. YOU THINK THEY SHOULDN'T PLAY. Drop it already. It's silly to say that women "can't play." I can guarantee that every woman in the WUSA would kick each and every one of your asses on the field. People who say women can't play sounds so bakward and pathetic in this day and age. I do recall the same thing being said about a certain female tennis player many years ago who went on to prove that neanderthol logic extremely wrong. They may not be as aggressive (can't jump as high, can't run as fast, etc) but the talent is there and the finesse is there. It's not the same as watching men's sports, but you can't deny the talent. The WUSA didn't fail because "women can't play the sport," but because soccer isn't very popular in the USA and men's sports simply draw more attendees than women do. I agree, the league should have had a longer plan and not expected money in the bank so quickly. I think it's very sad.

posted by aacheson at 12:50 PM on September 16

I read an article over at ESPN a while ago about why men arn't watching women's sports. I think the author hit's the nail on the head as to why women's sports isn't working in the U.S. Or anywhere for that matter. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/hays/030822.html

posted by camcanuck at 01:02 PM on September 16

gyc, don't you think that's a bit harsh? I agree those leagues don't seem to be pursuing what one would consider their core demographic, but rather seem to be trying to convert loyalists of sport/league A to a new product. Ask the XFL, its a bad idea. But I also think there are a plethora of other factors to blame for the league/s failures. (talking like the WNBA has already croaked) aacheson, thanks for fielding the 'can't play' ball. Just plain silly, if you ask me. No doubt, it would help if there was more dunking in the WNBA, though.

posted by garfield at 01:45 PM on September 16

I'll agree about one thing...its sad. "...every post you do..." Every post i do?!

posted by StarFucker at 01:56 PM on September 16

I think we can all agree that money is always hard to come by in start-up leagues in any era, for any gender. I don't think Women's Professional Sports suffer from less skill, or less cash. I think it has taken the world too long to accept a female athelete playing a "real" sport (read not Tennis or Golf, though I like both) for a paycheck. I think efforts like the WNBA, and WUSA need to simmer for a while before the public catches on. In the meantime girls, go out and play as hard and as well as you can, if you're good they'll watch. And even if the "general public" doesn't, maybe a group of young girls will. And they just might turn the tide...

posted by lilnemo at 01:59 PM on September 16

SF: when I first joined here, I was warned that consistent negative posts (in my case about baseball) were not appreciated, and I think the same is fair for you. You contribute plenty of interest and amusement but perhaps you just ought to not bother posting in women's sports threads.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:06 PM on September 16

Sportsfilter: we do posts!

posted by garfield at 04:12 PM on September 16

Negative posts?! Expressing an opinion is a negative post? Now i've heard everything.

posted by StarFucker at 04:28 PM on September 16

Bleedinell I have been driven to come out in sympathy with starfucker! Are we to just all agree that women, the poor wee dabs, can't be spoken about negatively? How many apologists for womens football would actually pay, with money they have earned, through honest toil, to watch it, on a regular basis? Let em play, by all means, but if no one comes to see, well, oh dear, what a shame, never mind.

posted by Fat Buddha at 04:53 PM on September 16

All right! You heard the man bill, baseball bash away!

posted by lilnemo at 04:55 PM on September 16

There seems to be faulty logic that if you watch 'worldcup' soccer you'll also watch a full season. I love worldcup soccer, but have no interest in watching men's or women's soccer for a full season. It really has nothing to do with the quality of play, and I'm sure I'm not the only one with this opinion. (I will take either over the wnba, however)

posted by justgary at 07:52 PM on September 16

The difference as explained to me was that just saying, in essence, "This sucks" over and over again adds nothing to the discussion the rest of us are trying to have. If you have something more detailed, or specific to the topic, that's different. But post what you will, I would hardly want to be accused of shutting up the Fooker.

posted by billsaysthis at 08:48 PM on September 16

Personally, I think that with your entertainment dollar stretched so thin as it is, it becomes more and more difficult to support any new leagues. Too many things sucking at my wallet. What?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:09 AM on September 17

nice.

posted by garfield at 09:06 AM on September 17

Also - when it comes to futbol, we are actually pretty spoiled here in North America, we usually only see the best of the best on TV - Premiership, UEFA and the World Cup. Shit and Shinola, people.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:13 AM on September 17

Yes, but when it comes to discussing the failure of WUSA, saying that "it sucks" is a valid point. I'm with FB and StarFucker here (may God have mercy on my soul.) In theory, there is no reason why women cannot play football. In practice, there don't appear to be (m)any women who actually can play top quality football. Why this is I don't know. Not enough coaching? Not enough practicing when young? Football is an inherently more athletic/aggressive game than tennis or golf? Sure, all of the women in WUSA would kick our asses. Guess what? Nobody pays to watch me play football either. Even the USA National Team used to practice against a male U-16 college team. I follow the development of women's football in the UK. I support their right to play, and I hope the sport grows. One day, I even hope that the quality might be good enough for me to pay to watch.

posted by salmacis at 10:43 AM on September 17

Interesting Q & A with a reporter from the Washington Post (probably have to do some lame registration to get to it)

posted by eckeric at 12:57 PM on September 17

great link eckeric!!

posted by garfield at 01:31 PM on September 17

Yeah, but, salmacis, did you see any of these games? In terms of competitiveness and will-to-win and (sometimes) on-field hatred, they were completely top-notch. And (I'll keep harping on this) the nature of the game of soccer is such that there isn't a vast difference in terms of on-field quality between men and women is not that much--certainly not as much as basketball (or as American football would be), which allow a much higher degree of athletic accomplishment than soccer. The only qualitative difference is the speed of the game. That's it.

posted by Justin Slotman at 02:27 PM on September 17

Justin Slotman: If you can say that with a straight face, then you clearly don't know anything about men's professional football. The statement "the nature of the game of soccer is such that there isn't a vast difference in terms of on-field quality between men and women is not that much--certainly not as much as basketball ..., which allow a much higher degree of athletic accomplishment than soccer." is so hilariously wrong I'm seriously considering using it as my .sig.

posted by salmacis at 02:24 AM on September 18

Scis: If you can say that with a straight face, then you clearly don't know anything about men's professional football. JS: That's clearly true. Especially if we're talking about soccer. :D But--HEY!--prove me wrong. Where would the superior athletic gifts of men manifest themselves in any place in the game of soccer besides the speed of the game? And did you see any WUSA games?

posted by Justin Slotman at 06:07 AM on September 18

Look, if you seriously believe basketball allows a "much higher degree of athletic accomplishment than soccer" then there is no point in arguing with you. You might as well say that the sky is green. Football is a game of athleticism, power, strength, pace and skill. This is not a matter of opinion. Women can be comparable in skill, but they will always be behind in athleticism, power, strength and pace. And from what I've seen, the skill level is pretty woeful as well. And no, obviously I never saw a WUSA game since as far as I know they were never broadcast in Europe. I have, however seen top level women's football such as the World Cup, and I contend that the two are similar.

posted by salmacis at 09:56 AM on September 18

Salmacis, I agree with you pretty much except that I think the women's game is at a stage analagous to that of the men's game pre-WWII. They need more years to develop, not just tactics which can be copied from what men's teams have learned, but just the rigor of multi-generational practice and routine. Which is why I thought the WUSA founders needed to come in with the the 10 year expectation.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:09 PM on September 18

Scis: Look, if you seriously believe basketball allows a "much higher degree of athletic accomplishment than soccer" then there is no point in arguing with you. You might as well say that the sky is green. JS: I think I mean more that in terms of what you see on the field of play, basketball and football more obviously display athletic accomplishment than soccer. Read on, I may make sense at some point. Scis: Football is a game of athleticism, power, strength, pace and skill. This is not a matter of opinion. Women can be comparable in skill, but they will always be behind in athleticism, power, strength and pace. JS: I'm not arguing against this, merely arguing that the way soccer displays these traits is much more subtle than the way other sports display these traits. And that those traits make it harder to make a pure on-field quality distinction between the highest levels of men's and women's competitions. Like, I'm thinking of a slam dunk in basketball--something visually athletically impressive, and something women clearly cannot do with any regularity--and I'm looking for the soccer equivalent of something women clearly cannot do and I'm not finding it. A lot of that has to do, I'm sure, with my relative ignorance of soccer outside the World Cup. I'm an American--I like football. I love football, the structure of it, the constant variation on the theme of offense vs. defense, the organization of interlocking parts. All these things are present in soccer--and I like soccer--they're just not as obvious. They are present in an understated, subtle way. And so--I argue--are the differences between men's and women's soccer: subtle, understated, not as obvious as they are in other sports. There you go.

posted by Justin Slotman at 03:03 PM on September 18

Ridiculous

posted by StarFucker at 03:45 PM on September 18

Aha! Well met, my friend!

posted by Justin Slotman at 04:09 PM on September 18

Well Justin, perhaps you could reflect on the fact that those of us who do know football (me, StarFucker, Fat Buddha) say the opposite. For us, there is a world of difference between the men's and the women's game. If you ever watched an English Premiership game live in the flesh, I think you would be surprised at how physical it is.

posted by salmacis at 02:51 AM on September 19

Soccer is an extremely physical game. That is, if you want to actually play the game, rather than watch the game from the field.

posted by garfield at 08:38 AM on September 19

Slotman...think of it this way; how intense and physical do you think a game of helmet football with women would be compared to a game with men? There ya go, thats how different it is in football... Very...

posted by StarFucker at 10:17 AM on September 19

It looks like they are trying to save the league. I would like them to do well and keep going. I think that they can pull it off if they have a business plan that cuts down on costs and allows them more time to build up some tradition and fans who want to follow them even when money is tight.

posted by eckeric at 02:36 PM on September 19

Ok, I need to let go of the mouse and step away from the google news, but this was an iteresting bit of information in an article in IHT.

In England, where the FA responded to the popularity of women's games during World War I by banning its clubs from sanctioning them for 50 years, 14,000 fans attended the World Cup qualifier against Germany. The average national team game crowd is 8,000. . Now, according to Ward, almost every club has a women's team, including Sheffield, the world's oldest, which not long ago didn't allow women to attend its annual dinner. . Four years ago, the FA began to explore its own pro league. "We found it was too early," Ward said. "There's no timetable, only when it can be sustained."

posted by eckeric at 06:20 PM on September 19

Well Justin, perhaps you could reflect on the fact that those of us who do know football (me, StarFucker, Fat Buddha) say the opposite. Geez. I'll bear in mind that for those of us without a degree in footy, our opinions are apparently invalid.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:27 PM on September 20

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