December 15, 2012 – A day we should all remember years from now, as the launch of a new and smarter women’s soccer league in America, NWSL, National Women’s Soccer League. And I’m sure we will, so convinced am I that the involvement of U.S. Soccer will allow this incarnation to be a sustainable league.
But that is not to say the launch is without very serious flaws, in my opinion.
You only get to launch a particular league once. You only get one chance to make your first impression. You only get one chance to not screw it up. U.S. Soccer blew that chance. Blew it in so many ways that I have a hard time figuring out where to start. I won’t go back to the initial announcement, because I gave U.S. Soccer benefit of the doubt on announcing when and how they did due to fans clamoring for something, anything, and at least they gave us that.
I guess I’ll try starting with the build up to the new name and logo launch. As far as I know, (this whole post is from MY knowledge and MY perspective as a fan) the announcement that the new league logo and name would be unveiled at HT of USA v CHINA was first made on twitter by @ussoccer and followed quickly by @NBCSN. NBC Sports Network continued with tweets prior to HT about the big unveiling. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but that led me to believe there would be some kind of interview/ceremony/unrolling of a banner..something to make a statement that the league had arrived. Nope, none of those happened.
Seems U.S. Soccer botched the whole thing. Not only was there no big to-do on TV, but it was up on Facebook and unofficially on Twitter BEFORE it was announced on TV. And by announced I mean a quick screen flash of the logo and an even more brief mention by the commentator. If you hadn’t heard about the announcement outside the broadcast, you probably missed it while peeing at HT. Missed opportunity to make a good first impression on viewers? Check. Missed opportunity to synchronize all social media? Check. Missed opportunity to reach out to the two national team partners and include them in unveiling? Check.
That was just the unveiling. Let’s talk about what was unveiled. I know where to start with this one. The logo. Is it possible to represent a female athlete without a PONYTAIL? I am 56 years old. This representation of a woman athlete has been used at least since I was in high school, in the early 70’s. If this is to be a new league, why the stale old image? Red, white, and blue..I get it, but isn’t there a more imaginative way to use them? And the shape? Was the Pentagon done with their trademark shape? Or is there going to be a rule change to incorporate a homeplate somewhere in the game? Here’s a thought..how about a SOCCER BALL? A shield? A banner? Any of those..all of those? They could have looked at a few logos from the teams in the league to get ideas..or asked fans. *gasp* Ask fans? The hell you say! It has been a few months in the making, ample time to get fan input. After all they came up with the current one in about five minutes from the looks of it. I have tweeps on twitter that could have come up with a better logo, much better. As for the name, I don’t hate it. It is better than NAWSL, but not by much.There are only so many ways you can incorporate ‘women’ ‘soccer’ and ‘league’. But once again, how about fan input? Maybe someone more creative than me could come up with a better name.
If we, as fans, are to follow and build a base from which to promote the game, the powers that be have to give us something to work with. They have to learn from past mistakes, not just the financial ones, but the marketing ones, as well. In conjunction with the name/logo unveiling where is the website I can go to to pre-order a t-shirt? A simple but effective way to engage fans, a revenue generator to promote the new team, a chance to hook folks from the beginning. Nope, no website, yet. I can set one up for free in about 15 minutes, but I’m no U.S. Soccer.
Don’t let this blog fool you. I am a staunch supporter of women’s soccer at all levels. I desperately want a league to succeed by being sustainable, but… this is nothing new here. They are not reinventing the wheel. At least they don’t need to reinvent it. All they really need, is to sit out here and view it from a fan/supporter/ticket buyer’s perspective once in a while. Soccer at this level is more than a game, it’s business and what’s that old adage? Something about the customer being right? As a fan/supporter/ticket buyer U.S. Soccer let me down tonight, big. I won’t stop being all of these things, but I will not be a big U.S. Soccer booster until they show me they care as much about me as I care about them. The new league is as much for me as it is for them to cultivate the next national team. Now is the time for the NWSL to step out, let U.S. Soccer be in the background. Now is the time for the NWSL to make me their fan.
*All civil comments welcome