The problem with Women’s Professional Soccer isn’t demand for the women’s version of the game, or any overblown disconnect between stars like Hope Solo and Abby Wambach, and the rest of the players, but with poor leadership.
Women’s Professional Soccer has not been blessed with the kind of commissioners that are adept politicians and marketers at the same time – the kind of model of commissioner established by the late NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, and followed by not just the current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but by NBA Commissioner David Stern, too.
The formula is a basic one: handle disagreements with team owners behind the scenes, work to come to a compromise solution, speak with one voice, and don’t make hasty, rash moves or statements.
That blueprint was not followed by the current bosses of Women’s Professional Soccer. Indeed, it was violated time and again.
For example, not dealing with ownership disputes in the press, whenever possible. IF the media asks about a sensitive issue with an owner, don’t imply that something’s wrong with the person who owns, in this case, MagicJack. Just elect not to answer the question. Instead we got this from Independence Owner David Halstead, and new CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan didn’t even cut him off during an interview posted at AllWhiteKit:
D.H.: I’ll say it from an owner’s standpoint and a non-lawyer’s standpoint, we believe that we’re excited to move forward with six teams and Dan has that passion and common purpose that I talked about a couple of minutes ago. I think all of us, all of the owners say ‘We should change that, we should change that, this didn’t work’ and it’s just a process of maturing the league and the way we run our franchises. I do that in Philly, Thomas Hofstetter does it in New Jersey, and Fitz in Atlanta and Dan in Florida. What’s been going on since then? For whatever reason that lawsuit was dropped as far as I understand it and we’re all trying to make 2012 a great success as 2011 was and spending our time talking about the 2012 schedule and getting a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place and expansion and selling more tickets and getting more sponsors. There’s been a lot of go forward hard work to improve the league.
J.O.: I think David said it well. I think everybody is just looking forward to working together to make the next season the best one yet.
That should not have happened. If anything, it looks like the owners have more sway than Ms. O’Sullivan. A strong leader has to, first, get the owners in line, under one whip.
Otherwise, the mob (the owners) winds up ruling the league, and the commissioner, what the WPS calls the CEO, just takes orders.
A CEO must push the owners out of the way, but in a way that’s not heavy-handed. The case must be made that, for the survival of the Women’s Professional Soccer, there can be only one voice: that of the commissioner of the league.
With that, problems like the one with MagicJack can be solved behind the scenes and in such a way that the WPS doesn’t wind up cutting off one of its arms. But from the looks of it, that kind of dream management scenario is not going to happen, and it’s a shame.
Because of bad management, Women’s Professional Soccer will die, and the idea will be that women’s soccer is just not viable. That will be a lie, but that will be the prevailing story.
Hope Solo was correct when she was quotes as texting to Sports Illustrated’s Ann Killion:
“Women’s pro soccer has a place in America It’s just about finding the right people to make it succeed. And I’m not sure we’ve done that.”