Saturday, August 29, 2009

WPS all-stars and a new attention-getter?

The WPS all-star game is being played tomorrow evening in Missouri. WPS all-stars will take on a team from Sweden. Apparently the roster has changed a bit since the original voting took place because some players (the English and French) have national team commitments. Votes were cast by fans, coaches, media peeps, and fellow WPS players. And though the WPS did not get nearly as much attention as I would have liked to see (I'm talking to you--again--ESPN!) it was clear from the list of starters chosen that those who did pay attention know something about the game. Only 4 Americans made the (initial) line-up showing that foreign players made an impression this season over bigger names such as Abby Wambach and Hope Solo.
LA Sol keeper Karina LaBlanc got voted into the starting goal keeper spot. Solo will be an alternate.
Perhaps Solo did not get the top spot because she is a "loudmouth, showboat, jerk" according to a recent Atlantic article about Solo and the controversy she has engendered. I think we covered some of this when Solo was benched against Brazil in favor of veteran Brianna Scurry in the last women's World Cup; the apparent double standard when a female speaks out; the expectations of women's teams being a big bff fest, etc.
But this article seems to suggest that Solo's showboating behavior may gain the WPS some popularity. She's edgy in a league that is all about marketing to families and role-model behavior. The suggestion being that such an attitude will not sell the sport. After all, the article says, most professional sports love the villain, thrive on controversy, and need that off-field excitement.
It's all so fraught. I am neither a Hope Solo fan nor a hater. And I do like the idea that the WPS needs to expand its marketing beyond the kids and their paying parents demographic. But the idea that there has to be a bad girl to draw attention to the league is an unfortunate one.
I hope this is not the new other way for female athletes to get noticed (the first being the whole sexification process).

(h/t to jb for the Solo article)

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