By Melissa Turtinen
The success of a team always draws in supporters, no matter the sport. Call them bandwagon fans or fair-weather fans, but it doesn’t matter, teams need those fans and the fans need wins to keep them watching.
The success of the United States Women’s National Team is getting fans to enjoy the sport of soccer, but not just that, women’s sports. It’s about time.
Women’s sports haven’t got the attention that men’s sports have. Teams and players don’t make as much money as their male counterpart because their leagues lack the large fan base the established male leagues enjoy. But Sunday change that.
The U.S.’s win over Brazil showed people what female athletes are capable of. It showed that although women may not play the game the same way, they’re still tough, they play with heart and they can put on one heck of an entertaining match.
What’s more exhilarating and stressful than playing a man down in extra time? To top that, the USWNT’s Abby Wambach scored the latest goal in the Women’s World Cup’s history (122nd minute) to send the game into penalty kicks, to give the U.S. a second chance at advancing to the semifinals. Call it karma, call it skill, call it whatever you see fit, but the U.S. stayed focused and proved it had unmatched heart by going 5-for-5 in penalties to defeat Brazil.
The U.S.’s hard-fought and determined win generated a lot of buzz throughout social media websites, sports programs and water-cooler conversations. People showed their pride for the United States, showing they watched the game – or at least cared enough about the result to tell others. For the most part people were amazed at what this group of women was capable of.
USWNT, along with other women’s teams, hasn’t had the following that’s needed to make a team, a sport, a gender successful in the eyes of the public. Now, this win, has given women’s soccer – and female athletes – that chance. The USWNT got some of the respect it deserves after Sunday’s win.
The Women’s Professional Soccer League has already seen increased popularity since the U.S.’s win. Recent ticket sales of the Boston Breakers, a WPS team that features five players from the USWNT roster, has already jumped. WPS’ attendance is primarily season ticket holders and group sales, while single game tickets make up a small fraction of the audience, in Boston it’s less than 20 percent, according to Andy Crossley, the General Manager of the Boston Breakers. This changed after Sunday’s win.
“We saw an immediate surge in online single-game sales. Monday’s numbers were especially strong, particularly considering the Breakers don’t have a home match on the calendar for nearly two weeks. On a typical day, the Breakers might sell 40-50 single game tickets online. On Monday, we sold nearly 300,” Crossley said.
The Breakers next home game is July 24th against Brazilian star Marta Vieira da Silva and the Western New York Flash. According to Crossley, this match up featuring one of the world’s best soccer players isn’t interesting the fans. The game on Aug. 6 is becoming the new hot ticket in town when Boston hosts magicJack.
“Seven of the 11 starters for the U.S. in [Sunday’s] quarterfinal play for either the Breakers or magicJack, including two of the biggest heroes, Abby Wambach and Hope Solo,” said Crossley.“ Plus, magicJack has the super-sub Megan Rapinoe that set up Wambach’s incredible equalizer. This is all about the American women.”
Americans found a new team to cheer for. The determination of the U.S. women is something that won’t be forgotten. They are gaining the attention and support they deserve.The USWNT has shown the U.S. what female athletes can do, thus affecting women’s sports and its future.
Melissa Turtinen is a contributing writer for The Soccer Guys.