Where oh where to start? January 11th, 2013, a day that started nicely enough, with the promise of national teams player allocation. Finally, the newly formed NWSL was moving toward actually fielding teams, but for some, the gnashing of teeth started even before the awaited announcement. Who will we get? Who won’t we get? How will (fill in the blank) diss us? Everyone from USSF to owners, coaches, and players were out to sabotage the teams/league by the allocation process. We won’t mention that the allocation process was not entirely in the hands of any of the above entities, but rather the final decisions were made by a 3rd party. Sure, owners were consulted to see which players/skill sets they were looking for and players were consulted as to where they’d like to play, but neither made that final decision.
And then it happened. The allocations were announced and WoSo social media erupted. You would have thought that NWSL had asked for everyone’s first born, or their iphone. Everyone from Gail in Grise Fiord to Carmen in Chiapas was lamenting the terrible hand they’d been dealt. The wailing drowned out the few and far between who were excited to see what their team could do with the talent they had just freely acquired. I purposely say freely because each team was given national team quality players which they could build a team around, big talents to anchor their efforts going forward. No new league could afford to acquire those players any other way.
The debates that ensued would be almost comical if it wasn’t for the fact that they were about players, real people with real feelings. Some, who decided not to seek their fortune overseas, where arguably they would be able to make more money and be treated better by foreigners than their own country.
This what I have to say to all the allocation naysayer, Shut Up! No really, shut up. You have just been handed thousands of dollars of quality players to build a team around and you’re complaining? Stop living in the past and move on. Pick a player, or a team, or even two and support. Support like a league and the livelihood of thousands of people depend on it. Support like your little sister is one of those kids that wants to play in a pro league when she grows up. Support like an adult that sees a pro women’s soccer league is good for more reasons than it gives you something else to bitch about.
Maybe you’re not in a financial position, or a geographical location, to go to games, but you can support in so many other ways. First and foremost, you can support your chosen teams/players by giving them positive feedback. Don’t just tag the team on twitter when they do something you don’t agree with, tell them when they get it right. And if you do disagree, be civil and respectful. Second, follow them on all social media and share with friends, colleagues, strangers, the passion you have for them.The teams are made up of people who are doing their best to give you what you want, a pro soccer league, help them out. Third, move on. This is not WUSA or WPS. Many feel scorned by the demise of those two leagues and I agree it was painful, but move on. Do your very best to make sure that NWSL does not go that route.
Help build a fan base that is focused on getting the very best product on the field and in the stands. Maybe you don’t have as much influence on the product on the field as we all want, but you can make sure the very best product is in the stands. In this case with teams being primarily in small geographical areas, the stands are the internet. Become a league supporter as well as a team/player supporter. If a team that you don’t necessarily root for is streaming a game, watch. Numbers count folks, not just ticket numbers, but viewer numbers, too. And the same if a game is televised. Even though you may not support a team, if their game gets televised watch it! Remember it’s a league we’re after and every bit of measurable support counts.
I understand it is the very nature of sport to analyze and compare, to pick apart every bit of minutia available, but remember the big picture. The price we may have to pay to get this league off the ground in the first season is to dial back the most negative thoughts we have and keep them for discussion in private. Or better yet, lets try to present them in a positive light, which after all is the very, very best of snark.
P.S. To all you USWNT naysayers: You might want to zip it for a while, too. This is a new year, a new cycle with a new coach. Give the process a chance to play out before you start flogging everything associated with the USWNT, ever. Let the coach and players, present and prospective, show you what they’ve got. Then you can flog away, civilly and respectfully.
C’mon NWSL fans, show us your good side! And GO Boston Breakers!