A few honest words with NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey

I had a chance to speak with Cheryl Bailey for a few minutes during the Thorns-Spirit game, and we ran through a quick series of topics:

– Scheduling around FIFA dates: The season is just too short. They tried to minimize the impact this year and will re-evaluate next year.

– Attendance: Even moreso than the numbers, Bailey is impressed with the environments at the games she has attended. She has seen different stadiums — big, little, neighborhood, suburban — and has enjoyed the variety of experiences they’re providing.

– Marketing: Veterans of BigSoccer and beyond will appreciate this exchange, which also gave Bailey a good laugh (nice to know the NWSL boss has a sense of humor):

ME: Will we see more of a marketing push for NWSL as the season goes on?

BAILEY: In terms of …?

ME: (Pause). I don’t know. I never know what “marketing” really means. Every time there’s an argument about soccer for the last 20 years online — and I’ve been online for 20 years, I’ve seen every argument there is about soccer — it’s just, “Oh, if it were just marketed more, people would come out.” So I have to ask …

BAILEY: I think since it’s so new, it’s not something everyone automatically knows about. It’s new, it’s starting, it’s growing. Just the fact that it’s on YouTube — all the games are live. The last six weeks of the season, it will be on Fox. It’s a gradual transition. But that, I think, is what’s going to give us stability. So in that respect, marketing, getting the word out — we’re using a lot of the social media that wasn’t there before. That’s what people are responding to these days. In a short amount of time, how do you get the word. It’ll grow, and the marketing will grow from there.

– Contracts: Are most NWSL players signed for one-year deals?

BAILEY: There’s an option at the end of this year.

ME: So teams should be able to keep their players together?

BAILEY: If they choose, yes.

Good news for the Spirit, which should be a better team in 2014 than it is right now.

(Corrected: She said “using a lot of the social media.” Not “losing,” which would be very different.)

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