A Meeting With the Commissioner

The Melissaverse

Gary Bettman understands what was wrong with last year’s “Katy Perry” chant in Winnipeg. He didn’t see it at the time, but he does now.

I know this because I sat at a table with him on Wednesday and discussed it.

He told me that he, the league and the Islanders were mortified when, just days earlier, an Isles employee tweeted a picture of Sidney Crosby that included blond pigtails and a call for fans to chant “CIN-DY CROS-BY” at him. He listened while I explained how team organists promote casual sexism by taunting opposing teams with songs like “California Girls” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Our conversation was brief – maybe 10 minutes or so – but it felt meaningful and productive. It was far from perfect, and I’ll get to that in a moment, but my main takeaway was that, at least to some degree, the commissioner gets it…

View original post 946 more words

NWSL’s Problem Isn’t Marketing; It’s the Product



Over at The Guardian, Caitlin Murray wrote a fantastic article about Year Four of the NWSL and some of the solutions teams have come up with to meet the challenges of marketing women’s soccer.

Yes, most of the ideas were the same answers we’ve been hearing for years. But teams still struggle with attendance. At first I thought it was in part because, for example, a managing partner of the Boston Breakers wondered aloud if it’s possible to market soccer to soccer fans.

But after a nice walk to clear my head, what I’ve determined is: the problem isn’t marketing – the problem is the product.

See, all along NWSL teams have been trying to market soccer players as role models. Everyone knows female soccer players are bastions of integrity and high standards, so this was a natural path to take.

But I think they’re off the mark. What they should do is simply drop the soccer façade once and for all and start a league of role models.

Thus I present: ALaRM – the Association of LAdies Role Models!

I get it. Kids only want to see female athletes being athletic so many times – about once every four years. Soccer is boring, and no one watches women’s sports anyway.

So instead of soccer, teams get together every Sunday afternoon at a nice place like a library or a convent and watch their teams do role modely things.

  • Arrive in their cars sober
  • Stand up straight
  • Read a book
  • Color inside the lines
  • Say nice things about their opponents (with no vocal fry!)
  • Pay their rent on time despite not making a living wage

See, those are the kinds of activities moms (and dads) want their kids to watch, not a bunch of muscle-bound ruffians tackling each other and taking off their sweaty shirts after they score goals. Give them what they really want – what the market research has been saying all along: a league of women who aspire to nothing more than to be the person your child aspires to be. Because ultimately, the accomplishments of female athletes are invalid if they are not tied to and done in the name of a social cause, and there’s no better cause than children.

Do it for the children, NWSL! LeagueOfRoleModels dot com is still available.

Hey Atlanta United FC – Why No Women’s Fit Shirts? [Updated]

Hi Atlanta United FC! It’s so great to see you. Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play, hahaha ha ha. Yeah.

Anyway, I’m a soccer fan. And a Founders Club member. And I’m a woman. And I wear clothing. I know this seems kind of dull so far but just bare with me.

HA HAAAAA get it? BARE with me!


Ok, so I’m a soccer fan and a Founders Club member and female and I wear clothing. And when I wear clothing – which is a lot – I like to wear clothing that fits. Not clothing that is baggy around the shoulders because it’s made for a man, or a wee bit narrow at the waist because it’s made for a man, or too tight around the chest because it’s made for a man. I like to wear clothing that is made for women.

Why don’t you have any clothing made for women in your online store?

And by “clothing made for women” I don’t mean pink. Or studded with rhinestones. Or pink and studded with rhinestones. I mean clothing that’s more narrow in the shoulders (with cap sleeves!), flares at the waist and has a little extra room in the chest.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Same shirt, different cuts.

Men’s shirt – Women’s shirt

Here is an example of what I don’t mean:

Men's shirt - Women's... what IS that?

Men’s shirt – Women’s… what IS that?

Now look, I’m not saying don’t ever make cutesy low cut shirts for women. I’m saying make shirts for women. At all. Today. So, for example, when all those women at the tonight’s launch event finally made it through the long, long merch line, they could actually buy a shirt not fitted for a man if they preferred. It’s pretty Ludacris you don’t have any.

After all, unity is one of the five pillars in the new logo, right? And the gold circle is a symbol of unity? “United” is in the name, but I’m not feeling very unitedy. I’m feeling left out. Unimportant. Definitely not part of the (Founder’s) club.

So I hope you’ll hurry up and get some women’s-fit clothing in the store. Heck, go talk to Ann Rodriguez, your female Vice President of Business Operations. Ask her about her clothes. I bet she wears them. And they’re not bought at Men’s Warehouse. I guarantee it.

I’ve got my season tickets (deposit). You’ve got a sweet new logo that I’d love to wear around town. All I ask is for some clothes that fit. C’mon, Atlanta United…

Unite us! Unite the clans fans!


VP of Business Operations Ann Rodriguez reached out via Twitter to say women’s fit merchandise is on the way:


My Top 15 Things from the 2015 Women’s World Cup

In no particular order…

1. The brilliant insanity of the first 16 minutes of the final.


3. No torn ACLs. One broken ankle. All in all, not too bad.

4. Abby Wambach sitting – not to be cruel, or to feel vindicated. Because it was necessary. And it worked. And…

5. Morgan Brian’s emergence. She changed the tourney for the USA.

6. Australia 1 – 0 Buh Bye Brazil

7. Colombia 2 – 0 France

8. ⭐⭐⭐

9. Krieger – Johnston – Sauerbrunn – Klingenberg. Damsels in Defense. Department of Defense.dod

10. Ivory Coast’s goal (mute it).

11. Ari Hingst, Kelly Smith, Heather Mitts, Leslie Osbourne, Briana Scurry, Kate Markgraf and Julie Foudy. So refreshing to see and hear them all month long.

12. Schwoop!

13. Nigeria 3 – 3 Sweden

14. War Elephants. Steel Roses. Lionesses. Super Falcons. Football Ferns. Matildas.

15. I mean, who does this?

And the 10 Worst:

1. FIFA – turf
2. FIFA – shared hotels
3. FIFA – prize money
4. FIFA – Robert Palmer girls
5. FIFA – Moncton
6. FIFA – Sepp Blatter
7. FIFA – “concussion protocol”
8. FIFA – rigged draw
9. Great Britain’s FAs
10. Laura Bassett’s devastation

“Where were you when the #USWNT won the World Cup?” “Which one?”

In 1999 I was with my Marauders teammates in a big home-theater setup. Just three years removed from my first U.S. National Team match, it was pure excitement to watch the team win dramatically, exhaustingly. I remember having so much pent-up energy after the whistle, while everyone else went back to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. I wanted to hug the whole room.

Spent tonight hunkered down on my couch with the phone off and Facebook closed, an old George Thorogood song the soundtrack for my plans: when I watch alone, I prefer to be by myself. No questions from friends or family, no distractions, just me and my team, ready.

It’s not been an easy cycle for us fans. We have a job to do too, you know, to support the team through thick and thin, to spread the WoSo word as much as we can, to fight against the sexism that both permeates FIFA and pops up in comical whack-a-mole HOT TAKES every time American women are on the verge of something great.

And there has been a lot of thin: surprise coaching transitions, roster stagnation, poor performances versus weak teams, ugly off-field issues, a superstar seemingly unaware of herself. The opening four matches of this tournament were frightening – we knew what the team’s talent was capable of, and watching them struggle amplified angst and anxiety four years in the making.

And on top of that, we can’t control anything that happens on the pitch. Abby Wambach talked of how difficult it is to not start, to not be able to affect a game. That’s what it’s like for fans every single time. Our fears and frustrations and joys and elation are the roller coaster we willingly sign up for. Tonight, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team thrilled us again. Thank you, you glorious group of women, for an amazing ride.

So, where were YOU when the USWNT won the World Cup? Which one?

For the purposes of this post I’ve focused on the two World Cup wins that captured the imaginations of the entire nation. If you have a story to tell about where you were for the 1991 World Cup win, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

A Brief Text Conversation with a Co-Worker About Hope Solo, ESPN and the Women’s World Cup.

Photo Credit: clappstar via Flickr

Photo Credit: clappstar via Flickr

me: i hope they don’t ask me about Hope Solo
CW: jesus
b/c you can only have opinions about female athletes
CW: because i know what they’re going to say
and it’s not what i would say
CW: what are they going to say and what would you say?
me: they’re going to say she should be suspended right away and that women’s soccer is dumb anyway
CW: eff that
football players kill people and they let them stay on
me: i would say i’m conflicted about Hope Solo because she did a shitty thing… coach & US Soccer totally bungled how they handed it (acted like it never happened… celebrated a record she hit & made her cap’t for a match)… then the case was dismissed in january… the ESPN story that has everyone up in arms used a court-sealed deposition, and i’m unhappy about that
and she’s also the best goalkeeper in the world and yes i want her in net right now
CW: it’s only coming back up b/c they’re doing so well
me: No, it’s coming back up because of the ESPN report. That is the only reason.
CW: oh, gotcha
me: That deposition, along with Solo’s sister in law sitting for a video interview, has revealed a lot of detail that had otherwise been swept under the rug.
And they did it the day before the USA’s first game, even though she was arrested last year.
CW: ahhhhh
that’s not cool
me: It was a dick move about a shitty story. Solo hit her family members; her family members hit her. No one is the good guy here.
CW: right!
there’s no reason to bring it back up
except to get more ratings
me: Which is exactly why they did it – because the Fox network is carrying all the games.
CW: dammit
wait, why would they want to help out fox
i thought we watched that usa game on espn
me: But then you toss in the fact that Solo went on Good Morning America, and did a lengthy (print) interview with ESPNW that amounted to a “redemption tour” and she kinda set herself up for this.
CW: ohhh
well, shit, if she keeps on playing like she did on monday, then maybe it’s all worth it
me: Which is why she won’t be suspended.
plus the case was dismissed by the judge because the sister and nephew refused to appear for depositions.
CW: gah!
it’s worse than a soap opera
me: So technically she’s been cleared by the court (though even that’s not 100% resolved as there might be an appeal). Went on her “redemption tour” and then ESPN released the sealed documents, and then she saves USA’s bacon in Winnipeg and it’s just… Hurricane Hope.
And people – talking heads – want black and white answers. If Tim Howard had hit his niece, he’d have been suspended, no question. So there’s a clear double standard here.
CW: ah, true
me: Thus… I’m conflicted.
CW: how can espn get away with releasing sealed document?
me: Good question. I asked a lawyer friend if they could “get in trouble” for it and his response was – “it would depend a lot on the applicable state statutes/case law and the terms of the court’s sealing order”.
CW: that’s crazy

The HappyGoSnarky Altogether Predictable Women’s World Cup Prediction

She said what?!

She said what?! (Photo by “Love @11” via Flickr)

Greetings, all. Welcome to The HappyGoSnarky Altogether Predictable Women’s World Cup Prediction!

The last year or so since the dismissal of U.S. Women’s National Team Coach Tom Sermanni certainly has been interesting. While the rest of the world seems content to work on “technical skills,” “ball movement” and other foreign concepts, the USWNT has stockpiled veterans from the 2011 team and focused on Route One soccer, all led by a coach who appears content to fit square pegs into round holes, results be damned.

And at the end of this roller coaster? A walk through CONCACAF, losses to France and Brazil, a draw with Iceland (ICELAND!), and a return to the top of the Algarve peak, albeit out of a very weak group.

Uneven performances from a team couched in a difficult group, coupled with new verve from France, typical German strength (except in goal), and formidable challenges from Sweden and ’11 winners Japan – plus about 1,947 teams in the competition – make this tournament a tough one to predict. But alas, I will try:

I haven’t seen enough from Team USA in the last year to convince me they can win the Women’s World Cup. But I’ve seen enough of them in the last 19 years to know the heart in this team. And I think that heart, that American toughness, fire, physicality and yes, Carli Lloyd, will get them into the semis. Some may pine for a change in these tactics to ensure the USA can keep up with improving teams, but it would be foolish to ignore the power of the American core approach. (These things are not mutually exclusive, of course, unless you’re Jill Ellis).

After that? Let’s just hope they’re not playing Iceland.

Best of luck to all the teams. Here’s to exciting games, full stadiums, and no horrible injures.