Some Thoughts on a National Disgrace

Players for the Mexican and Jamaican women's teams present themselves before a nearly empty house at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., prior to the CONCACAF group stagte fimale on 21 October 2014.  Final score: Mexico 3-1 Jamaica.  The Mexican team advances to face the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2014 CWC semifinals.

You know how we always hear about various pro sports teams struggling with their salary cap? And the persistent question of how much is too much, and whether any pro athlete is really worth that many millions of dollars a season?

SeattleReignFC-logo-bwHere’s a real salary cap for you: $30,000 per season.

For the record, that’s not a minimum salary. That’s a maximum salary for the National Women’s Soccer League.

While KUOW gives an August report from Arwen Nicks and Marcie Sillman a happy title, “Seattle Taking Notice Of Reigning Women’s Team”, it’s also a bit deceptive. Seattle took greater notice of S2, the new Sounders FC third-league team intended for their reserves to get playing time.

It should be noted that aside from playing their games at Starfire, the Seattle women’s professional soccer team is entirely unrelated to Sounders FC. Rather, they are Seattle Reign FC, a name apparently held over from the former ABL squad.

While SRFC is blessed with powerful talent, it is almost a prerequisite for any kind of success; unless a player is on a national team, her salary is capped at thirty thousand dollars per season, creating a situation in which the lucky players without a national team roster spot get to play in the championship game, go home, and either pay rent the next morning or move.

As any sports fan in general can tell you, this is no way to run a premiere league. Then again, considering the history of, say, English football clubs, we’ll have to see what the NWSL becomes over the course of the next century.

Meanwhile, this miserable state of things is accentuated by a soccer match that had nothing to do with SRFC or the U.S. Women’s National Team except for the fact that the winner will meet Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, and Megan Rapinoe (all of SRFC) and their USWNT teammates in the semifinal round.

Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I've seen in ages. (John G. White Jr., 21 October 2014)Mexico topped Jamaica in a CONCACAF contest at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., earlier tonight. The final was 3-1, though Joseph White of Associated Press tweeted during the game, “Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I’ve seen in ages.”

And, yeah, as goals go, it was a sweet one.

This was the end of CONCACAF group play; Mexico will meet the U.S. in the semis. And, true, the weather only made the game that much tougher, but White’s recap for USA Today should probably be praised for not making a point of the absolute embarrassment this game has caused should cause Americans.

Think about the talent level. Think about what we saw. Two national teams fighting it out in a hemispheric tournament, with the winner knocked out of World Cup contention.

But this was women’s soccer. If we cannot at this time tell you what the attendance was, it is because the number is so hard to find a box score. But RFK Stadium seats over forty-five thousand.

Then again, DC United, the MLS team, only allcoates around 19,500 seats per match in RFK. By comparison, the top attendance in MLS is for Seattle Sounders FC, averaging well over forty-thousand per match. The lowest-attended MLS team, Chivas USA, is happy to see 7,200 people turn out for a match.

Seattle Reign FC placed second in 2014, losing the championship match on their home field. They will be leaving Starfire next season, hoping to draw 6,000 per match to Memorial Stadium.

That would be nearly a two-thirds increase over their average attendance this season, all of 3,632.

Veronica Charlyn Corral of the Mexican women's soccer team fights her way through Jamaican defenders in the CONCACAF group stage finale at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., 21 October 2014.To the other, such meager numbers would appear to exceed the attendance at RFK Stadium for the CONCACAF group play finale between Mexico and Jamaica.

And why not? After all, it’s just women playing soccer, right? Not even the CONCACAF recap notes the insulting lack of attendance.

But, seriously, what is the problem here? It’s not that Hope Solo can’t get arrested in this town, but, really, is domestic violence what it takes to get some attention?

So what is the problem, here?

Take your time. There are still some months left to figure it out. The 2015 NWSL season opens in March.

____________________

Nicks, Arwen and Marcie Sillman. “Seattle Taking Notice Of Reigning Women’s Team”. KUOW. 28 August 2014.

White, Joseph. “Not that you care”. Twitter. 21 October 2014.

—————. “Mexico tops Jamaica, to face US in WCup qualifying”. USA Today. 21 October 2014.

CONCACAF. “Mexico downs Jamaica, secures CWC semifinal spot”. CONCACAF.com. 21 October 2014.

NWSL. “NWSL Announces 2015 Schedule Format”. NWSLsoccer.com. 27 August 2014.

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