The latest incarnation of a women's soccer league will start in 2009. The new league plans to place franchises in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington.
The new women's league claims it has done its homework and has learned some lessons from the failed Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), an entity which lasted all of three seasons, from 2001 through 2003.
Women's Soccer LLC will undoubtedly get a boost from this year's Olympics. But will it be enough to capture consumer interest in women's soccer? History suggests no.
Women's sports have been struggling on the professional level for years in America. A planned woman's hockey league never got off the ground. There is the Women's Professional Football League, but in all actuality its semi-pro at best.
Women's college basketball has pockets of great interest, including Connecticut and New Jersey, but neither the WNBA nor the defunct American Basketball League has resonated among sports consumers, whether it is at the arena or in front of television sets.
American sports customers are just not interested in women's professional sports for some reason. Fans don't watch it on TV in big numbers and that presents a problem for promoters of professional women's sports leagues.
But there should be some interest. The United States Soccer Federation claims there are 3.2 million players registered with the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, and another 4.5 million adults with the organization as parents, coaches, referees, and administrators. Another 250,000 adults are playing in soccer leagues nationally.
Based on the number of girls playing soccer on the youth level and the amount of parental involvement, there should be natural consumer interest in women's soccer, but it has failed to materialize when it comes to the pro level.
Overcoming past failures and lack of interest in big time women's professional sports will be the major obstacles facing owners who want to build a big time woman's soccer league.