I, along with many Americans, am still riding the high of watching the epic USA victory over Japan in this years Women’s World Cup final. Yet, I can’t help but be a little disappointed in hearing the same tired rhetoric from sports media. It seems that every time the USWNT is successful, the first thing to be written in response is that “hopefully” the success can translate into increased support for the women’s professional soccer leagues in the U.S. Right now the newest women’s professional league, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), is in the midst of its third season. The previous two iterations of women’s professional leagues folded after only three years. Instead of continually asking whether or not national team triumphs will lead to greater support for professional leagues, it is time for sports media to actually play a role in making them successful!
Sports writers all over this country have the power to change the narrative of women’s professional soccer. All that is required is the desire to actually report on the NWSL. It is crazy to expect the greater public audience to get excited about a sport that has zero coverage in mainstream media. Take ESPN as an example. On their homepage, they allow fans to customize their website by tagging different sports teams as favorites. By doing this, ESPN is able to provide fans with the scores and story lines for the specific teams that matter to them. However, when I went to add my favorite NWSL team to my customized homepage, the team did not show up as an option. In fact, not a single NWSL team came up in the search! ESPN FC, the soccer division of ESPN, reports match scores and tracks wins and losses for each team but that is all. Under every other NWSL tab-Home, News, Statistics, and Video-it says “No Recent Activity” and “End of Content”. The absence of any real information other than scores is disgraceful for a league that is in the middle of its season! The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has completely failed to cover a professional sports league in America.
My question is how exactly do we expect the success of the USA in the Women’s World Cup to influence the NWSL fan base when the top sports news outlets barely acknowledge that a women’s professional league even exists in the U.S.?
It is about damn time that the U.S. sports news industry actually contributed to helping the NWSL gain recognition and support. Now is the perfect time for sports writers everywhere to use the momentum of this year’s extremely successful Women’s World Cup (the final was the highest viewed soccer game in American history) to start promoting the NWSL. With more coverage and exposure fans everywhere can begin or continue to support these incredible teams.