I learned something yesterday, and any day you learn something is a good day. Let me share what I learned..
Yesterday I observed some of my tweeps (and a few non-tweeps) in a discussion about the merits of a player, wanting to make the USWNT WWC 2015 roster, playing for a club team in the U.S. or overseas..and the politics that involves..and the implied threats..and their mistrust of the USSF..and how the U.S. coach is a puppet of the administration..and how players feel forced to play in the U.S…and it’s ALL SO UNFAIR! *emphasis mine.
I think the discussion was triggered by a piece on Equalizer Soccer by Tim Grainey, where he wrote about Yael Averbuch during an interview; “Playing in NWSL would provide U.S. national team head coach Tom Sermanni easier access to watch her games and evaluate her.” Somehow this morphed into a twitter discussion about Christen Press continuing to play in Sweden for Tyresö or being forced to come back to the U.S. to play in the NWSL. *Let me take a minute to point out that the author made the statement, not Sermanni, not USSF, not even a player.
All of the tweeps/non-tweeps appear to be very fond of Press, as they should be. She is certainly going to be a future star of the USWNT and has the potential to make an impact in any game she plays, on any level. You can say they are fans of Press and you can include me in that group. What I didn’t understand when I entered the discussion was just how big fans they are.
Even though Press herself, in an interview with Equalizer Soccer’s Jeff Kassouf, said that she had spoken directly with Tom Sermanni about going back to play in Sweden or coming to the U.S. to play in NWSL, the fans could not be dissuaded. *My takeaway of the interview was both Press and Sermanni want what’s best for her development as a player and her impact on the USWNT as they get closer to choosing a roster for WWC 2015.
After many tweets back and forth involving up to 7 people, the hardcore ‘USSF (and by extension, USWNT and Sermanni) Can Do No Right‘ group where having none of it. No amount of persuasion, not even by a NWSL GM or a trusted Australian blogger/reporter, could convince them that asking players to play closer to home in a qualifying/tournament year was anything other than a Press hating conspiracy concocted by USSF and aided by Sermanni to ruin the career of any U.S. prospect playing abroad, but especially Press. *OK, this may be a bit harsh, let’s just say they have a very healthy distrust of TPTB.
And here is what I learned: *Fans will be relentless. They will form attachments to teams and players and leagues and they will defend them, from all-comers. They will not always be open to persuasion, or apologetic, for any of it. They will band together in their corner of the fandom and circle the wagons. Their case may not always be rational to anyone else, but it will always be passionate. And at the end of the day, it’s fans like the ones I exchanged with on twitter that will keep the discussion of what is good or bad for a sport going. I may not agree with them, like yesterday, but I will always be thankful that women’s soccer has them. There is nothing sadder than a sport that no one is passionate about. If passionate fans is a sign of success, then women’s soccer is on the way.