A 2016 NWSL Championship Observation

09 OCT 2016: The WNY Flash celebrate winning the 2016 NWSL Championship soccer match between WNY Flash and Washington Spirit at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not very clear what you’re arguing for here. A return to a non-neutral site for the Championship? You conveniently skipped over last year’s “atmosphere” at the neutral field in Portland, which is emphatically young-adult friendly. All you say is “the atmosphere must be better.” But are you arguing for more adult-friendly fields across the NWSL, or for the presence of a “home crowd” at Championship games, or for hosting every Championship in Portland until other cities can compete on the atmosphere they provide?

  2. Both semis were more interesting/exciting than the final. I don’t think it was all about crowd noise. Both final teams were just flat.

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