Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We Heart Women's Soccer

The Picket Fence Post family celebrated The Girl’s birthday a tad early this past weekend by taking her and a couple friends to see the Boston Breakers, the Boston Women’s Professional Soccer team (which includes U.S. Women’s World Cup player Lauren Cheney) take on South Florida’s magicJack team whose roster includes my daughter’s sports hero, Abby Wambach also of the U.S. Women’s World Cup fame, along with her World Cup teammates Shannon Boxx, Christie Rampone and Megan Rapinoe. Sadly, star World Cup goaltender, Hope Solo wasn’t at Saturday night’s game.

And it was, pardon the pun, a magical night.

The Girl, her friends and her brothers were wowed by the athleticism on display on the field which they judged the action as much more exciting than watching the Boston area men’s professional soccer team, New England Revolution. There were women, men, girls and boys cheering on both teams, including one particularly besotted teen boy who was wearing a Hope Solo jersey, clearly disappointed that she wasn’t on hand and playing on Saturday.

After the game, in what’s called “Autograph Alley,” hordes of people surged forward against metal barriers to try to get players' autographs, as police were on hand to attempt to control this mob of fans of female soccer players. Wambach was the crowd favorite. She scored both the goals that night, including a stupendous one with her trademark header. All the people with whom I spoke in the crowd -- moms, dads and a police officer – were simultaneously surprised and thrilled to see such enthusiasm for female athletes at the top of their game. It made a powerful statement.

It made me so grateful that The Girl was able to witness this, this celebration of women athletes, a celebration so vigorous that Wambach required police accompaniment as she gamefully and patiently walked the line for what seemed like an eternity, signing soccer balls, posters, tickets, shirts and anything that was sticking out in her face. (For the record, one of The Girl’s uber-determined friends was not only able to secure Wambach’s signature on a Women's Professional Soccer league soccer ball for the birthday gal, but also got many other players’ Jane Hancocks as well. That ball is now The Girl’s most prized possession and is sitting in a place of honor in the middle of our mantle above the fireplace in our family room.)

Given the surge in passion and the wildly positive message the evening's events sent to the boys and girls in attendance – that women are just as tough competitors as their male counterparts – it was troubling to read this article in the New York Times saying that the Women’s Professional Soccer league, which has over 230,000 followers on Twitter, is in trouble.

“Attendance and television ratings have swelled in the three-year-old Women’s Professional Soccer league, but there is no guarantee that it will survive into Year 4,” the Times said. “Salaries, which average $25,000 but run as low as $200 a game for a few, according to the players, face further cuts. Front offices of the six teams are run by skeletal staffs.”

I, for one, who loudly griped about the paucity of U.S. Women’s World Cup gear in local sporting goods stores, really want this league, this exciting league populated by talented athletes, to continue and to thrive, if not for the likes of Wambach, than for the likes of The Girl, her brothers and for that kid in the Hope Solo shirt. Isn't it better to see people celebrating the likes of Wambach, Rapinoe and Solo rather than the vapid Snooki?


  1. If you want the league to stick around, the best way is to come to the games and cheer for the local team. Even better, buy season tickets.

  2. Don't forget about Amy LePeilbet, the left-back for the USWNT! I believe she plays center-back for the Breakers. She was all over Abby during the game!

    But I agree that the WPS is a much better alternative to silly things like Snooki and am also disappointed at the lack of WPS gear available. *fingers crossed* attention to the WPS grows and prevents the league from folding!

  3. I think it's a tragedy that women's athletics will never receive the same recognition or appreciation that men see because the women's game is beautiful. It's passionate and it's tough, and it's pure. I for one hope the WPS amongst other professional women's leagues see the same enthusiasm we are seeing now in the future. It's great to see women and men, boys and girls alike supporting the WPS. Spread the love, and let's continue in a positive direction.

  4. "Isn't it better to see people celebrating the likes of Wambach, Rapinoe and Solo rather than the vapid Snooki? "