For how long must America’s women prop up the men’s national team?
October 13, 2016
The women have been killing the men in terms of attendance recently
It has been a bad year for American experiments. The nation’s polity is now debating the meaning of “locker room talk,” and if all goes well it might recover. The status of the American experiment with men’s soccer, however, is even more precarious.
Here, for your consideration, are the attendance figures for the last five home friendlies involving the men’s team:
- 9,012 USA–New Zealand in Washington, D.C. (Oct. 11, 2016)
- 8,894 USA–Bolivia Kansas City, Kansas (May 28, 2016)
- 9,893 USA–Ecuador in Frisco, Texas (May 25, 2016)
- 9,274 USA–Canada in Carson, California (February 5, 2016)
- 8,803 USA–Iceland in Carson, California (January 31, 2016)
Here, for a bit of context, are the attendance figures for the last five home friendlies involving the women’s national team:
- 15,652 USA–Netherlands in Atlanta, Georgia (Sept. 18, 2016)
- 10,490 USA–Thailand in Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 15, 2016)
- 12,635 USA–Costa Rica in Kansas City, Kansas (July 22, 2016)
- 19,272 USA–South Africa in Chicago, Illinois (July 9, 2016)
- 23,535 USA–Japan in Cleveland, Ohio (June 5, 2016)
The beauty of soccer is that it is a sport for everyone. It is played by young and old alike—well, not exactly alike, but by the young and old. It is played by men and women alike—well, not exactly alike in trophies, but men play too. We should never lose sight of that.
At some point, however, we must all hear what the market is saying: The public doesn’t want men’s soccer friendlies and the economic burden of supporting some dudes’ hobbies needn’t fall on successful women forever. America, it should be noted, has been more generous than other countries in its support of a flagging men’s team. US Soccer really did try. But sometimes you just have to face facts.
As the WNT’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations approach, we should all be prepared for them to voice their exhaustion at having to prop up Chris Wondolowski’s dreams of grandeur. After all, when one team falls short, the other one has to work even harder to pick up the slack. It’s exhausting. How many nutmegs is the USA, as a nation, going to make Tobin Heath do to compensate for the continued international career of Steve Birnbaum?
The more perceptive among you may, at this point, be thinking “but isn’t the women’s national team coming off a World Cup win and Olympic appearance, which explains why they are out-drawing the men?” Yes, the women are indeed coming off a World Cup win and Olympic appearance, and the men have not qualified for the Olympics since 2008 and recorded their best-ever World Cup finish—third place—in 1930. Precisely.
Take the “One Nation One Team” slogan seriously, America, and let the women be this nation’s one team. In all practical terms, they already are.