Ticker Tape Parade down the Canyon of Heroes! Wow! Fantastic! Finally, recognition on the big stage! Accolades they deserve because they earned them!
And then reality set in.
NYC hosted the USWNT ticker tape parade but asked for sponsors to pick up at least $450K of the estimated $2M price tag. Reasonable enough. Nike, Mondelez International, Electronic Arts..and MLS, are most commonly cited as those sponsors. And bravo brands! Thank you for stepping up and sponsoring the parade..and women’s soccer. Only MLS wasn’t a sponsor of women’s soccer before the parade. They have a six degrees of separation relationship because 2 of their pro teams own an NWSL team, so close enough I guess. As a benefit of sponsoring the parade each entity was allowed a float..or three.
I’m not unreasonable or blind to how things work. I know it would have been a PR disaster, from the WoSo side, for the 2 NYC BroSo club teams to not be on the WoSo bandwagon for the parade. I mean, I probably would have been quick to point that out. But the way it was initially presented, or not presented to be more exact, led me and more than a few others to question why the club teams and MLs had to figure prominently in the parade. Initially it was reported that MLS, New York City FC and New York Red Bulls would each have a separate float to themselves. Which certainly got my shackles up. How dare they steal the spotlight from the accomplishments of the USWNT! I was only mildly relieved to find out that no men’s team members would be on the floats. NYRB’s float was to be primarily devoted to their efforts in girls youth soccer, so at least it had a closer connection to WoSo. And NYCFC, well they were going to have their fans on their float with their supporters gear on. No tie to WoSo that I could see there.
As it eventually turned out, most of that would not be true. While MLS, NYCFC, and NYRB had a presence on the floats Sky Blue FC of NWSL also had a presence on a float, a float provided as a result of the MLS sponsorship. So, not as BroSo as originally thought, but still more BroSo presence than a great many WoSo fans wanted to see at their parade, me included.
Now we come to the speeches and key ceremony. Who do we see front and center in his US Soccer polo but The Don himself, Mr Garber of MLS. He gave a good enough speech, as speeches go. But why was he front and center touting how everyone should go see “our” pro teams? Because he bought the time by sponsoring the parade. And you don’t pay that kind of money without expecting something in return. What he got was the driver’s seat while even USSF’s Sunil Gulati could only holler “shotgun”. And where was Jeff Plush of NWSL? My guess is he was bound and gagged in the trunk because not a peep was heard from him. This is what frustrates me the most.
I am not ungrateful. I understand that MLS stepped up with money when it was requested. I understand that you expect a return on that kind of expenditure.
What I am is frustrated. Extremely. Almost to exhaustion.
I am frustrated that it seems every time WoSo needs people to step up, the default almost always is BroSo. Yes, men’s soccer is, in general, better financially than women’s soccer. I get that, I also know the arguments for why that’s the case. And that just adds to my frustration. Men’s soccer is not, and should not be, the be all and end all to “save” women’s soccer in the US. If the powers that be would stop falling back on that old argument maybe we’d see some real work to make pro WoSo work.
USSF has seen fit to start NWSL and yet it seems that at every turn they are the first to treat it like less than and with that attitude no wonder sponsors are so hard to come by. If the organization that sanctions the league doesn’t exhibit true belief that it is good and valuable and sustainable, on its own, why would a sponsor feel that way?
I understand that the victory tour is a big money maker and also a thing fans really want, but why wasn’t the communication between US Soccer and NWSL better so that fans could get up to date info before tickets were bought and games were rescheduled. Just one of the ways NWSL is treated as an afterthought rather than the premier league for some of the best soccer players in the world. Why do they constantly miss the mark when it comes to the fact that MLS and NWSL are not viewed alike when it comes to the world’s elite players? Of course women’s salaries are so low that the level of competition in NWSL may be more of a draw than the money, but you can’t say that on the men’s side. Elite men’s players come here to get a paycheck on the way out. And even if BroSo doesn’t like it, that’s the case.
So yes, I want to thank MLS for sponsoring the parade, but it still frustrates me that the work isn’t being done so that WoSo isn’t put in the position of having to thank BroSo for something they should be able to accomplish in their own right.