Carli Lloyd’s statement implies Nike may have saved NWSL

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With her transcendent performance in the World Cup title game rout of Japan, Carli Lloyd established herself as one of the faces of the USWNT. Lloyd won the tournament’s Golden Ball Award (which goes to the most outstanding player), and in doing so placed herself squarely within the national consciousness.

Next year is season number four for the National Women’s Soccer League and no professional American women’s soccer league has ever survived beyond three seasons. So the NWSL has already achieved more than any of their predecessors, but 2016 is a critical crossroads year.

The league hasn’t established itself enough to the point that its long-term existence is guaranteed.

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As we’ve chronicled in detail before, the league has a special unique opportunity to capitalize on growing interest in the game and maybe take it to new levels. That is, if they can market themselves correctly. For the NWSL has a lot going for it right now, but also has a ton of ground to make up in the sports landscape.

Nike is doing their part. The Pacific Northwest based athletic apparel maker just announced that they will extend their current partnership with the NWSL till 2019. This news was released on the same exact day as the NWSL Title game.

“This deal is really about the future of the league,” said a statement attributed to Carli Lloyd, Houston Dash and USWNT forward.

“For women’s soccer to continue to flourish, we need partners like Nike who are committed. In past, there’s always been a huge question mark around the future. Now, the stage is set for continued success at the national level, as well as the club level.”

Along with the nine NWSL franchises, Nike has sponsorship deals with a many current NWSL players on the U.S. Women’s National Team, including

  • Boston Breakers (Alyssa Naeher)
  • Chicago Red Stars (Christen Press, Julie Johnston)
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  • Houston Dash (Carli Lloyd, Meghan Klingenberg)
  • FC Kansas City (Amy Rodriguez)
  • Portland Thorns FC (Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath)
  • Seattle Reign FC (Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe)
  • Washington Spirit (Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Crystal Dunn)
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  • Western New York Flash (Sydney Leroux, Whitney Engen)

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Nike has solidified their role as the NWSL’s official club kit, apparel and equipment, supplier of the league ball, and provider for all nine NWSL teams, as well as any future teams.

Riding the wave of World Cup fever, the league had their most successful summer ever in 2015- 18 of 44 matches sold out and average attendance increased by 29% since the end of the World Cup. The League set a new single-season attendance record with an average of 5,046 fans per game and 454,100 fans in total attendance in 2015.

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“This partnership with the NWSL demonstrates Nike’s commitment to the women’s game,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “As the league grows, Nike’s continuing support will be instrumental in growing the women’s game domestically and also globally.”

Things are looking up for Carli Lloyd and company.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and sometimes writes The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. The website is also featured on News Now.

Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye. He also appears regularly on numerous talk shows all across the country. Catch him Tuesdays on KOZN 1620 The Zone.

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Comments

  1. I don’t think Lloyd’s comment implied any such thing. She said sponsors like Nike are needed for the league to “flourish”, not that the league was dying. Big sponsors are certainly necessary for the league to continue, but it’s not at death’s door, as this article’s title would seem to imply.

  2. Parker West says:

    Diane, are you implying that the league is making money or at least breaking even? American fans in the stands and viewers at home loved the international woman’s competition that took place in Canada this summer and then we have the World Cup that turns the normal lack of US soccer interest on it’s ear. We are all a little nationalistic, we want our men and women to whip up on the rest of the world just as fans in all other countries do, but a weekly diet of woman’s soccer, I don’t think so. What do woman’s college soccer teams average fanwise? Even with a loved American sport like Basketball the numbers on a college level are lacking. There may be some markets when pro woman’s soccer and B-ball prosper, but certainly not countrywide. Why, who knows it’s an indisputable fact that over an entire
    league season and looking at all cities not just 10-12 huge markets, woman’s sports don’t draw, in ticket sales or TV market share. Without lots of NBA cash the WNBA would dry up. Could the NWSL survive without NIKE money? On it’s own with just ticket sales?

  3. I can agree that we as Americans are nationalists. We want the women’s national soccer team to win all the time and by a wide margin. The US invest so much into women’s soccer at the high school and collegiate levels. It invest so much more than any other country around. A professional soccer league can thrive in this country. But, I believe the business model for women’s soccer has to be completely different than men’s professional sports. In my opinion, without a thorough research of various criteria to support my argument, women’s soccer needs a lot of deep pocket investors, not the just the coalitions of federations of Mexico, Canada, and the US. The league needs sponsors from companies within all fifty states and companies to support the league nationally like Nike. The league needs a television contract, maybe, between two networks like CBS and Foxsports working together. The combination of these three aforementioned suggestions are used to set floor salaries for the players. League teams should not be placed only in big TV markets. There are at least 5 plus universities and colleges that field women soccer programs on mainland USA. These programs can be used as avenues to field at least 49 professional teams based on the mainland with one in the nation’s capital with an addition of one perhaps in Ottawa to make 50. The league should go big. A team should be placed in each capital of mainland USA, one in DC, and one in Ottawa. Each team gets 5 designated players from a pool of foreign nationals to make the game competitive. Certain small states should be allowed to get international players from the likes of Brazil, Japan, Nigeria, France, Sweden, etc. Canadian and Mexican players should not be considered foreign nationals. Each team can field a total of 19 players, 2 coaches, 1 trainer, one scout, and one GM. The league’s regular season runs from May 1 until the end of September. The top eight teams of the regular season competes for the league’s champion title the following year. There should not be a draft for players. There should only be 25 players invited each year to compete for 19 spots. Smaller states ‘ teams can invite players from bigger states due to slot limitations within that big states. Now, you have peaked the interest of fans nationwide. The marketing slogan should be: “which state produces and develops the top soccer talents?” The NWSL should go big or not go at all. The women’s game of soccer is in all states. The league needs more teams. Adopt my business model for the game to thrive and find it’s niche in the American pysche.

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