Question of the Week – If you were going to persuade someone that soccer is fun, exciting, etc…
If you were going to try to persuade someone that women’s soccer was fun, exciting, etc, how would you convince them? Share your favorite soccer story, soccer moment, etc. below!
When I talk about women’s soccer with new fans, I first tell them about how I came to respect and love game. It starts with following my favorite soccer team, the US women’s national team, and their journey to the World Cup. One of the defining moments for me, like many other soccer fans, was the World Cup quarterfinal game. It piqued my curiosity not only about the team, but the sport itself. I grew up watching and playing basketball, not soccer. After the World Cup, I made it my mission to follow soccer and try to understand why soccer remains the world’s most popular sport.
In following months, I asked questions about the sport and reached out to fans through social media. I volunteered to become an assistant coach of middle school’s girl soccer team. On the first day of the tryout, there were over forty girls that showed up! I learned so much from these girls and I saw firsthand what soccer meant to them at their age. Many had aspirations to play college and pro soccer. During the season, I also attended matches of a local off-season pro soccer team called the LA Vikings. I observed how much work and efforts these athletes put into the game.
After recounting my experience with soccer, I then persuade people by inviting them to watch live or televised soccer games with me. I encourage them to watch with an open mind, observe styles of play, and enjoy the game. Women’s soccer is fun and volatile. My favorite soccer story took place in January. I invited my friends to come to a local bar and watch CONCACAF semifinal game USA v. Costa Rica with me and local fans. My friends were huge basketball fans and were curious how I came to love the sport. They wanted to know more about the players on the team and the sport itself. By the end of the match, my friends inquired when the next match for USWNT would be. I gave them information and promised them they would hear many more invitations from me to come watch soccer games. I am happy to report that they took up on my offer and they, too, are spreading the word about the game to people they know.
Despite the WPS league’s cancellation of spring season and legal dramas, I am optimistic that people will come out and support women’s game. It requires fans not only to continue to talk about the sport, but encourage folks to give women’s soccer a chance. They’ll watch live and televised games wherever they may be. Opportunities are there; we just have to seize on them and let players and games make the audience on why the sport is exhilarating to watch and play.
Watch out folks: here comes my soapbox rant. To me, the story of women’s soccer and the support (or lack there of) is just a preview of the gender gap in sports. There are so many bigger issues that the story holds… but that’s enough for its own post. I promise I’m not bitter… most of the time.
The best way to convince people that women’s soccer is exciting and worthwhile is to get them to actually watch. I think that the Women’s World Cup (WWC) was a perfect example. The exciting finish against Brazil got the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) coverage all over cable and the internet. In turn, people watched the next few games. Those that couldn’t watch followed via Twitter and Facebook, and before any of us could catch our breath the nation came together to cheer the women on in what ended up being a 2nd place finish. Now I am guessing most of those folks were fair weather fans… come out and watch when its convenient for them and when it is the ‘it’ thing to do. But, I am guessing the majority of them will tune in this summer as the USWNT takes on the world (well, part of the world) in London.
Now the trick is translating the USWNT’s popularity into leagues around the world. How do we get people to become fans? Get them to the games. Offer free tickets to exhibitition games. Create partnerships with local youth leagues for specials. Sponsors love to support something that makes a profit… but they also want their advertising to be seen. You may lose a little bit of money but holding a free game but it would help your attendance and probably earn you a few loyal fans. Hold exhibition or even season games in ‘neutral’ sites across the country that will draw fans that typically can’t catch these games. As a Kansas Citian, I have found the popularity of Sporting KC of the MLS and the new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park inspiring. When the USWNT came to KC after the WWC, the stadium filled quickly. And although it is unlikely that we will find a professional women’s team here anytime soon, I can promise that if a professional game or two with national players was held in KC, the fans would show up. And most importantly, keep the conversation going. Don’t just talk about soccer when its popular… KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT! (feel free to chat with me on Twitter @becca4kicks… I’m always up for some soccer chat!)
I have to echo the previous answers and say GET THEM TO A GAME. Not just any game, though. If you want to turn people onto women’s soccer, a game involving highly-skilled teams that play up-tempo and attacking soccer will do all the advertising for the sport that you would need. Also, find a way to develop an emotional or personal connection between those you are attempting to persuade and those in the game. It could be that your niece or daughter or sister plays for a team and if you invite people to come see her play, they might be more willing to give it a shot and from there you can expose them other women’s soccer events.
I agree with everyone’s sentiments above. Yet despite all of our best efforts to help grow the game, there will still be those stubborn people who will refuse to give women’s soccer a chance. If faced with those naysayers, I think the only thing left to do is to show them this video below. If they can watch this video and not get chills or goosebumps, I give up.