2012: The Year That Saved Women’s Soccer
“I believe that if I did not compete in the WPSL Elite that year, I would have moved on from football.”
In 2012, after the collapse of WPS, professional women’s soccer in the USA was barely alive. But a few ambitious clubs, including a couple that were at least nominally professional, kept going. They kept fans engaged. They solidified or rebuilt the foundations upon which the next pro league, the NWSL, could be built. Best of all, they kept players playing.
This book is the story of that summer told by 35 of the people who experienced it on the sidelines and on the field. Hopefully, the people trying to keep women’s soccer alive in 2020 will be as successful as the people who did it eight years ago.
Enduring Spirit: Restoring Professional Women’s Soccer to Washington was published in September 2013. It’s the story of the first season of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, who were kind enough to let me wander around at their practices and follow them on a couple of road trips. It was first released for Kindle and Nook but is now available at other outlets as well.
Ongoing coverage: U.S. women’s soccer lawsuit on pay equity
I’ve covered just about everything in women’s soccer, from an Olympic final (2008) and World Cup games (2011) to high school games and sparsely attended exhibition games in the Dark Ages between U.S. professional leagues. I’ve also covered ongoing news stories such as the feud between WPS and maverick owner Dan Borislow. When Borislow suddenly passed away, I wrote a remembrance that was one of the most popular posts in SportsMyriad history.
Some reporters are afraid to be controversial in women’s soccer coverage. I’m not. I’m willing to call out Brazilian star Marta on her gamesmanship (while still paying tribute to her skill) or lead the chorus questioning the USA’s tactics and personnel decisions. I’ve had some interesting “discussions” on Twitter with angry soccer celebrities.
The point is not to be cynical or snarky. The point is to show the reality of the situation and hold people accountable.
And as journalists, we’re beholden to the facts. So when they’re bent, as came up often in the Great U.S. Women’s Pay Dispute in 2016, it’s up to us to correct the record, popularity be damned.
Also, when a team overcomes its problems, as the USA did in the 2015 World Cup, the victory is that much more sensational.
I think people are tired of seeing female athletes treated as perfect little robots who go out and do nothing but generate positive things. The reality is much more interesting, much more important, and much more inspiring.
- Weight lifted with U.S. soccer victory, gold (USA TODAY) – 2008 Olympic final (in-person coverage)
- Marta has her Diego Maradona moment (ESPN) – 2011 World Cup (in-person coverage)
- New life in the Old World: The nomadic American aiming for World Cup 2019 … with Canada (FourFourTwo) – feature on Ella Masar
- U.S. conquers the world / Fans hold breath, are requited with dramatic win (Knight Ridder Tribune) – column on World Cup final. That’s 1999. I’m old.
- Carli Lloyd’s memoir explodes myth that US women’s soccer is all fun and friends (The Guardian) – book review
- USA’s women lost – blaming it on ‘cowards’ simply misses the point (The Guardian) – after 2016 exit
- The USWNT is a soccer team, not a traveling circus. It’s time for a fix (The Guardian) – after Honolulu catastrophe
Projects and indexes