Face(s) of Women’s Soccer
Recently, a friend asked me whether a certain national player will become the new face of the national team and women’s soccer in the United States. I responded to my friend with a question as to whether there needs to be a face at all. If the response is yes, then what criteria should we use to decide the ‘face’? Secondly, is it their job to promote and draw people to the game?
Many fans would answer yes to the first question–that there ought to be a face for women’s soccer. They point to the hard fact that the women’s game does not receive enough support from the media, and it needs all the publicity and star power it can get. When fans identify with a notable player, they feel emotionally invested in the player and the game. So yes, the ‘face’ of the women’s game has responsibilities. Players with exceptional talent have more obligations than others to promote the game because the likelihood of success in attracting viewers to the game is great.
I concur with many of the reasons for having a ‘face’. My criteria as to who the ‘face’ is might be different from most fans. Ideally, the ‘face’ is more than a beautiful individual—it is about skills and style of play. When we delegate the task of promoting the game to players (who are considered the ‘face’), I fear we miss the point of the game. The face of women’s soccer is the team of women that give their all to the game every time. Since soccer is considered a team sport, every player ought to share responsibility not only on the pitch, but off the pitch.
The endeavor of championing the game is not an individual task. Yes, marketing is a small part of every players’ job, but it requires the organization’s involvement as well. They are the ones to lay the structural groundwork for team involvement in marketing campaigns. These campaigns can range from taking part in community outreach initiatives to hosting “fan raising” in forms of Twitter Q&A and autograph signing. When fans see the entire team engaged in the public realm one way or another, their curiosity will translate to increased interest and game attendance.
Admittedly, I am not a marketing/public relations specialist, but I feel that there seems to be a need for a singular face associated with the sport in this country. So is it necessary to have a face to draw people to the game? Should more talented players have obligation to promote the game? What do you think?