Calling B.S. on ‘moral obligation’ to continue support for women’s soccer

Chris Lingebach
July 10, 2019 - 8:40 pm
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Still riding the high of the U.S. women's national team's World Cup victory on Sunday, Budweiser and others have made a point to ensure America doesn't let the flame burn out on its support of women's soccer.

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Not everyone is buying this sentiment hook, line and sinker. Andy Pollin and Thom Loverro shared their counterpoint Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan.

"I think what they did was terrific," Loverro began. "I think what the women did was inspirational. It should be celebrated. They should have a parade. And if the money should be more equitable, then I'm all in favor of it."

"What I don't like is being lectured to about now I have a responsibility to support women's soccer," he said. "If I happened to have watched the women's World Cup and cheered for them, I made some kind of commitment that I wasn't aware of that I have to now start showing up at women's soccer games."

Loverro then read aloud the following tweet from sports-betting reporter Darren Rovell:

"I didn't realize the lack of attendance at women's soccer games was a national crisis," Pollin said. "Did you?"

"Look. You have to recognize the interest in the women's World Cup for what it is," Loverro returned. "First of all, people get interested in the World Cup because people are interested in the World Cup."

"Because it's a big national event," Pollin chimed.

"Yeah. It's a national event," Loverro agreed. "I mean, their friends talk about it. They talk about it. There's a segment of the population that could care less about soccer that watches the World Cup. And then there's a bigger segment of the population that might care a little bit about soccer, that isn't particularly interested in watching women's professional soccer. I mean, to connect the two is foolhardy.

"Budweiser, apparently, when they announced that they are gonna be a sponsor for the national women's soccer league, they took out a full-page ad in the New York Times that said, 'The world will watch them play today. Who will watch them play tomorrow?' Now, the problem is, who watched them play yesterday? No one."

Loverro continued from the NYT: 'Tomorrow, the women of the U.S. National Team will return to their club teams in the National Women's Soccer League and many don't realize they play these games in front of empty stadiums. It's the best women's soccer league, it's in our own back yard, yet we let it go unwatched. How can we support the U.S. Women's National Team if we don't support the women's game?'"

"You see?" Loverro said. "You shouldn't have been watching that women's World Cup if you're not gonna show up at Washington Spirit games and cheer on the Washington Spirit."

"That's right. We allowed you to have the cookie, now you have to eat your Brussels sprouts," Pollin said. "Yes. That's that. Also, when they say many don't realize they play in front of half-empty stadiums, many don't realize that there is a women's professional league at all, and many don't care that there is one!"

"Yes," Loverro said. "This is the familiar refrain we hear about women's sports: They're not covered enough; they're not featured enough; they're not supported enough.

"As if there's some sort of moral obligation by private companies, who are in the business to make money – like this radio station, like newspapers, like others – there's some kind of moral obligation to cover sports that most of their readers won't care about, or most of their listeners won't care about."

"Look. There's a segment of the population that loves golf, but golf participation has fallen off. Courses that were open have closed," Pollin said. "Does the country have an obligation to start playing golf to prevent this? No. We're in a world of supply-and-demand. There's not a lot of demand for people to go see women's soccer.

"And, off the excitement of Brandi Chastain taking off her shirt – 20 years ago today, by the way – that there was this unbelievable outpouring of love for women's soccer, to the point where they said, 'Oh, everybody wants to watch it now. We've got to launch a league.' And they did, and initially there was a bump."

"Mia Hamm played for the D.C. team," Pollin went on. "The first game at RFK Stadium, they drew 35,000 fans. By the fifth or sixth game, they're playing in front of four- and five-thousand people, and that's where the core was.

"The other people showed up just to see the big event. 'Oh, the launch of a league. Mia Hamm – she's a big star, played for the U.S.' But the reality is, it's not something that people want to spend their money on, and so why are we being told we have to do it?"

"Yeah. I mean, like we're basically being shamed into watching the sport that admit nobody watches!" Loverro exclaimed. "It's just such an Aunt Bee kind of attitude. There's this moral obligation, like this is the right thing to do, or something like that. People who have limited amount of leisure time, and limited amount of dollars to spend on entertainment – and that's what this is supposed to be, entertainment – and they have to take a chunk of that time, and a chunk of that money aside now, because they have an obligation to support women's soccer. This is a load of garbage." 

"Do we have that obligation for other women's sports?" Loverro went on to say. "Should we start going to WNBA games, too? The WNBA needs your help. I mean, average per-game WNBA attendance was down last year, and it's been dropping since 2010. So do we take our WNBA money and move it to women's soccer? I'm not sure how we do this now."

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