Will they still love us tomorrow?
Inevitably, the cheering, the celebrations and the parades end for a championship team, all championship teams and for the American women who won soccer’s 2019 World Cup, there will be memories but life goes on. The American team will fade into the background but there are questions about women’s sports that still need to be answered such as why does America embrace the women’s national soccer team but will not support a women’s league? Why do women get so much less money in sports with few exceptions such as women tennis players than men? Why can’t a women’s hockey league succeed? Why do marketing partners give more money to male dominated sports than women?
There have been efforts to get women’s sports leagues going for decades. Phil Wrigley and Branch Rickey helped start the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1943. That lasted until 1954. The longest running female league is the Women’s National Basketball Association was set up by the NBA as summer league in 1997. The NBA has sold off some of the franchises to individual owners outside the NBA. Three Seattle area businesswomen own the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Four women’s leagues are operating. The National Pro Fastpitch softball league, the National Women’s Soccer League which started in 2013, along with basketball and hockey leagues. National women’s teams get people’s interest and that included the 1999 Women’s World Cup United States championship soccer team. Out of that came the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2001. The WUSA had the 1999 players and solid backing from the cable TV industry, including ESPN, Turner Sports, and PAX Net. The WUSA could not attract an audience to fill the stands or watch games on TV. It folded in 2003. Professional women’s sports leagues face major money and interest obstacles. Women’s tennis and the women’s golf tour are rare exceptions.