As I watched the 2016 NWSL Championship I noticed a lot of orange seats. I didn’t see much of a passionate crowd displaying their agony and joy. Well, I saw few supporters but mostly kids.
The first two NWSL champions won their medals on the opponent’s soil filled with erupting fans. Houston was chosen to host the championship as a celebration of the success of the National Women’s Soccer League. The event should have been more of a house party.
A 2016 NWSL Championship Observation
Women’s soccer fans see the perception problem with the league. The reason why the NWSL can’t become profitable even though the world’s finest soccer talent plays on our fields. Having children attending the championship is necessary but kiddish for the adult fan to go to.
The perception of the dreaded “soccer mom” attending pro women’s soccer games still exists. The problem was broadcasted on a major network which reinforced stereotypes to detractors. Alyse LaHue, long time general manager of the Chicago Red Stars, recognized this problem since the league’s creation.
As she addressed this issue to www.ourgamemag.com.
“The experience of our games will not be a juvenile one exclusively. A group of 20-somethings can come, hang out in the beer garden, be vocal during the game, and still feel welcome… Every game needs to be an ‘experience’ for fans of all ages, so there will be something for everyone. Young soccer players will be happy because they will have the opportunity to meet their idols after the game or get autographs, young adults will be able to drink beer and mingle with like-minded fans in the beer garden, and the overall game atmosphere and experience will not be focused towards one particular demographic, but inclusive for many.“
Major League Soccer tried to make the MLS Cup an event. They pulled the celebrations off nicely, but the people attending the Cup Final were a bore. They didn’t show up when the last neutral site MLS Cup was in Toronto. Now casual soccer fans can see the guaranteed passion from MLS supporters at a Cup Final.
There shouldn’t be any complaints about the game. Championships and Cup Finals are usually nervy contests. The Western New York Flash and Washington Spirit were afraid of letting the match get out of hand.
The atmosphere must be better. The NWSL front office is talking about being patient with expansion instead of the league collapsing. We did it. We have a successful American women’s soccer league to watch. Now let’s show the viewing world our love for women’s soccer.