Women’s Soccer Keeps Division One Standing After Dropping to Five Teams

It looks like the WPS will live to see another year of Division 1 status. Women’s Professional Soccer, launched in 2009, was granted a continuation of the sanction that allows them to hold the highest level for a professional league. Despite having fewer than eight teams, a stipulation for Division 1 status, U.S. Soccer decided to grant the waiver on Monday. As it stands, the league will enter the 2012 season with five teams after launching with seven franchises in 2009. WPS owners have yet to agree on the terms stipulated by U.S. Soccer.

Illegal scissoring

WPS is the nation’s second attempt at a women’s professional league. In 2003, the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) folded after three seasons. The importance of Division 1 status is usually attributed to alluring new investors, keeping sponsors, and securing television deals, but I think it’s more than that. In order to secure the best talent, locally or internationally-grown, there needs to be a certain prestige. The best players want to play with and against the best to ensure they are ready for international competition. Even if the league isn’t granted professional status because of the amount of participating teams, that won’t change the message being sent to the American public and those part of the league: that it isn’t good enough.

Last season the league boasted Marta, Abby Wambach, and other of your favorite alternative lifestyle haircut rocking players. The 2012 season will include the London Olympics, which may give the league another popularity bump after its completion. Following the last World Cup, this nation’s astonishingly short attention span bolstered attendance for the league and got Hope Solo on Dancing with the Stars. Hopefully the popularity following large international competitions will be enough to attract new investors and fans of the sport who will stick with the league rather than hopping off the bandwagon as quickly as they hopped on.

But what happens if the agreement falls through? Or the next year? Or the year after that? Unless something changes or the minds of a few hundred thousand people’s minds change, the league will continue to struggle. This makes sense to you and me since it’s in its infancy and the nation is in a bit of an economic slump, but is simply not good enough for the powers that be. This predicament has led many to wonder whether the system should be scrapped and built up again, but who will have the wherewithal to tackle that? The fewer teams in the league, the less opportunity players have to develop which may lead to disappointing performances by the US national team in the coming years.

For the most part, women’s sports are treated with indifference and ignorance in this country. Many women shrug off the responsibility to these leagues but insist on suffering through the horribly sexist and vomit-inducing commercials of the Super Bowl even though they don’t give a shit about football. I think if you’re going to be in a relationship and thus pretending to like things you don’t actually like, at least feign interest in women’s sports. If the situation calls for your internal torture for an evening, might as well watch some athletic girls run around while you’re at it. Sure, you can fake the realness and act all worldly by going to a museum that you find excruciatingly boring OR you can go to a soccer game and secretly Google sports terminology while your date goes to buy you popcorn. So once the owners inevitably accept the deal (because what choice do they have), you East Coasters should pencil in a soccer date for next season.

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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 328 articles for us.


  1. Tickets are cheap, too. Most of them cost about $15-20 for a game. If you’re in Boston, games are at Harvard Stadium, so there’s really no reason to miss one barring death or death-like symptoms.

  2. Not only are the tickets cheap and the hairstyles alternative, the athletes themselves are the best you can find in the world. I went to a game last summer and was about 20 feet from 10+ world cup players (and meanyface Tony DiCicco) for $25. You can’t get that with many sports.

    • Totally agree. I went to 4 matches in Boca Raton this fall which involved a 2hr round trip drive, but it was totally worth it. Especially since the ‘fancy’ seats were $18 with the ability to switch sides and get seats after halftime!
      I’ve also read a lot of ‘soccer mom’ type of articles describing this same sentiment minus the alt haircuts! :)

  3. I AM THE HAPPIEST AT THIS NEWS. For anyone who’s thinking about how they can help even while being far away, I know at least one team, the Boston Breakers, lets you buy a season ticket package (or maybe even single game tickets?) and donate it to kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to come to games.

  4. Ha its funny that this appeared today… yesterday I was looking up to see what teams were in the american women’s soccer league or if there was one… abit strange theres only 5 teams like why are there so few….?

      • I think it’s more to do with there not being more financial backers. My (very) rudimentary understanding of how it works is that each team (franchise?) is owned by someone, or a group of someones. So it’s a matter of getting more owners, not more players.

        I think….

          • The league in England is a semi-pro league. Most of the women who play there are expected to have a “day job” in order to supplement their income. The WPS is a fully-pro league, meaning players are supposed to get their full salary from playing soccer and can focus on it full time. That’s the big difference between WPS and every other league in the world. All the Euro leagues are semi-pro in name, even if the talent is pro in nature.

  5. There are 36 professional men’s soccer teams here in the Netherlands. Currently only 7 support women’s teams, bloody shame really.
    My across the railroadtracks neighbour Feyenoord doesn’t support it, mostly for financial reasons it seems. Would totally go see a women’s team in Feyenoord colours.

    • in germany we got over 50 professional men’s football teams…but just about 12 women teams. and it’s not like you could compare that…the women are training their asses of just as much as the men but besides that they actually still have to work to make a living!
      I kinda had the hope that would change after we won the worldcup the second time … but nope

  6. Pingback: Handball, escrime, ski alpin, tennis: Girls Power! | Yagg

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