Updated: Jan 1, 2020
You remember those old Where’s Waldo posters where you had to scour every section carefully to find Waldo in a sea of people and activity and even just plain scenery? It would take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, but you finally found him?
That’s how it feels to follow the NWSL during a World Cup year.
The World Cup is already more than halfway done. With the USA securing a semi-final battle against England, the whole world is watching to see what happens next with this game. Megan Rapinoe has been up front and center in the media, first with her comments regarding a visit to the White House and then with her dynamic performance against France, nobody can seem to take their eyes off the Americans and women’s soccer.
So then why aren’t people aware that the domestic league that Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the national team play in is still going on? That there are games being played at night after dinner time that new fans of the sport can be watching? The official Twitter account of the NWSL is doing a great job keeping fans updated on what’s going on at the World Cup…but not so much about anything else, including themselves.
I have an app that sends me three alerts: (1) that lineups for the NWSL teams playing have dropped, (2) that there’s 15 minutes until game time, and finally (3) that the game has started. It’s the only way that I remember league games are still being played. When I scroll the NWSL Twitter account, I get highlight reel after highlight reel of the players in the World Cup. I get more information about THOSE games than NWSL games.
“So the league supports its national team players, that’s not a bad thing.” And what about the rest of its players? The ones who aren’t in the World Cup? The ones who have sacrificed a lot to play professionally in a league that doesn’t play everywhere or offer a lot of resources (depending on the team).
Marketing seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur for all that I’ve seen of the remaining NWSL games being played during the World Cup. Nothing to hype itself by appealing to new fans like “Hey, suddenly a Megan Rapinoe fan? She plays for Reign FC! Here’s her highlight reel and here’s the link to watch games and meet her teammates!” “Like what you see of Alex Morgan? Orlando sure has a lot of PRIDE in her! Here’s how you see Alex after the World Cup!” This is when the NWSL should be working double time to take advantage of the interest in women’s soccer and highlight their own league and all the hard working, talented players who grind day in and day out and wear their club badge with pride.
If you take a walk down memory lane, there was more marketing for the NWSL during the last world cup. Hyping up player returns (regardless of when they exited the World Cup), selling merchandise and generally informing people that they didn’t have to wait four years or for friendlies to see their favorite national team players; they just needed to wait for the weekend (and odd weekday) to see them with their club. Now? Now my phone has to send me three different reminders to look for Waldo, I mean, the NWSL.