I was wrong.
In 10 years, we’ll remember the summer of 2019 as the year that women’s soccer became a permanent fixture in the collective global sporting consciousness.
And how did that happen? Because the USWNT are the new Dream Team: a global phenomenon with the A-list personalities that match the A-list talent they bring to the pitch.
The sport will never be the same because of them.
Women’s soccer is already changing and the World Cup isn’t even over yet
It’s already happening.
ESPN announced a TV deal this week with the top women’s soccer league in the world: the NWSL.
Noting the record ratings that rival FOX is realizing from the Women’s World Cup, ESPN finally decided that they were ready to cash in. It’s a modest start of just 14 games (including the semifinals and championship), but ESPN can support and grow the league through a digital content reach that’s unmatched from its peers.
The fact that coverage starts almost immediately after the World Cup ends will only help ensure ratings success. The world has come to know not just USWNT players, but international stars like Chicago striker Sam Kerr. Diving right into coverage fresh off the World Cup and in the barren wasteland of summer sports is a brilliant strategy to build on an already engaged audience.
Digital media consumption in general, from live streams of games on FIFA to traffic on High Press Soccer itself is proving interest in the women’s game is vast and strong.
We’ve already seen the tipping point. It’s happened. Now it’s time to build on it.
USWNT players are forces on and off the pitch–sit back and enjoy them
None of this would be possible without the success on the field and conviction off the field of the USWNT.
Yes, they may be too talented to fail. But from the first game of their World Cup, the USWNT have captured headlines that their male counterparts never have.
Beat Thailand 13-0 and get criticized for too much celebrating? They make no apologies.
Come up with some clever tea sipping shade to throw at your opponent after scoring? Call out the double standard when you’re called out for it.
There is something different about this USWNT compared to their legendary predecessors. They great, they know it, and they don’t give a f*ck if you don’t like it.
It’s what makes many a transcendent modern star. For a sport to breakthrough, you need to be more than great. You need stars to be larger than life.
The public is responding to them not just by tuning in with their eyes, but showing up with their wallets too. USWNT jersey kits are Nike.com’s top all-time seller now. Something like that can’t happen without boys buying and wearing them–which they are doing.
There will be peaks, valleys, and plateaus with the game’s popularity from here. But the women’s soccer is now part of the broader global sporting landscape. So have a sip of tea and appreciate who made it happen. Teams and personalities like this are generational. Enjoy them while you can.