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Will the NWSL survive and thrive? This piece says “Yes”

Apr 12, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

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Following is my standard disclaimer for women’s professional soccer leagues. Unfortunately, I’ve had cause to write it not once but twice. And unfortunately, I’ve been correct. Not once, but twice.

Women’s soccer faces a daunting double whammy.

First, launching professional leagues in this country is ridiculously tough stuff.

For instance, no one could argue American football’s popularity in our land. And yet, leagues launched with intent to usurp just a smidge of real estate from the mighty NFL have come and gone. Point is, startup cost and efforts to build brand and establish yourself in a crowded market make for a darn tough slog, no two ways about it.

Now attach that to professional soccer’s historic struggles (men or womens) to gain traction, and conditions quickly become prickly and problematic. Not impossible, as Major League Soccer continues to prove on the men’s side, but surely with odds stacked against.

On the other hand, there is always hope.

Veteran Soccer America writer Paul Kennedy, who has seen ‘em come and go and been around to chronicle it, sees reason for hope as the National Women’s Soccer League moves forward in activation phase.

Kennedy cites Alex Morgan (the new day Mia Hamm), Merritt Paulson’s enthusiastic and well-backed investor leadership, financial backing from U.S. Soccer, reduced expectations and other reasons for liking the NWSL’s chances.

One other reason is obvious (and it more or less gets reflected in most of the reasons Kennedy lists): every failed women’s pro venture has offered lessons. At least today, there are more “known unknowns,” fewer “unknown unknowns.”

NWSL’s first season begins Saturday.

(Check back later today at ProSoccerTalk for more on NWSL’s launch, on the players and teams making up the women’s pro soccer upstart.)

  1. watermelon1 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    It’s just a really bad time. The economy sucks. I don’t see how this latest league “works.”

    Hate to say it because I love the game. But there isn’t much room for expansion of market. You have the girls under 18… And the parents who take them to the games. That’s pretty much it.

    And the league can not afford to go up against Olympics or World Cup because the star-power would be severely lacking and really hurt the fan interest with the best players missing games in order to play for their countries.

    • Steve Davis - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      You sound just like me on the launch of the last two women’s leagues. Maybe my cynicism is wearing off in old age, but I somehow have some faith in this one. At very least, I don’t have the same grim certainty that this one will fail. We’ll see …

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