“Can Twitter save women’s soccer?”

If you are on Twitter and in the women’s soccer community, you have heard the rumblings of a hashtag-slash-trending-topic movement to draw attention to the USWNT game versus Italy on November 27. ESPN3.com will be carrying the webcast, and folks want to prove to ESPN that people give a damn about the game.

I understand why women’s soccer fans expect and demand more of ESPN and other major media outlets when it comes to coverage of the sport. I don’t necessarily agree, as I’ve said in previous entries, but I get it. When the internal media production stagnates and is unwilling to evolve, it’s time to beg for outside help. It’s also time to take matters into your own hands.

I do believe in the power of Twitter, particularly in the hands of players and fans. I do believe this game needs to be watched by casual fans of US soccer. And I think it’s really important that fans are exposed to the background of how the USWNT ended up in the mess they’re in. I think it’s important that fans be dissatisfied with the lack of media coverage both internal and external, because in a way, that played a part in the past six or so years of complacency.

Of the two of us here at Cross-Conference, I am probably the wrong one to be writing this post. But I was asked, as a women’s soccer blogger, and even though I don’t root for the USWNT, I do admire the initiative. If you get enough people talking about and pushing for change, becoming part of the change, you have a better chance of effecting it.

Use #uswnt when you tweet about the game, and tweet often. This isn’t just about the national team–it’s about women’s soccer in the US.

Or it’s about Alex Morgan. Who can say, for sure?

I’m sorry, I don’t wear pink. Ever.

ESPN Latin America

You know what else is four letters? "FAIL."

The other day, a reader emailed to suggest that we offer up our perspective on espnW. Since the USWNT played last night, I am full of energy to rant about anything, really–so, dear reader, I responded that I would keep the topic under consideration, but clearly I needed to start this post. [Disclaimer: this is entirely my opinion and experience, which are not necessarily shared by my co-Collector, Joan.]

To be honest, when I first saw “espnW” popping up in Twitter talk, I thought it was a joke. There wasn’t a website (there might be now, but it takes more hunting than it merits) and this clearly wasn’t a TV channel… so really, who did these people think they were fooling? What a gimmick.

Then they had their retreat. Oops. So they did (do) exist. They were (are) for real. And that’s tragic. As I have said elsewhere, espnW is setting up a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for women’s sports fans, athletes, and supporters. As a former education major, espnW looks like No Child Left Behind to me–and if you are a teacher or a teacher-in-training, you immediately understand the rhetoric at work here. From the outside, the concept is lovely: a women’s sports presence on ESPN! The network is cleaning up its act and finally giving women’s sports attention! But on the inside, it’s merely shifting the blame. If you don’t support espnW, you don’t support women’s sports. If you don’t support women’s sports when they are handed to you (separate from the male “mainstream”) then why should ESPN cover it along with “everything” else?

My inner academic has a hat-tip for ESPN for the game the network is playing, but the inner academic is also grinding her teeth and hoping for blood that will never be shed. I would rather have ESPN ignore women’s sports entirely than build us this ghetto. Because, by the way, have you watched ESPN’s previous/current coverage of women’s sports? Have you listened to the commentary? Have you suffered through their women’s soccer coverage? Cross-Conference had more balanced and in-depth coverage of the Portland-Santa Clara game than ESPN offered, and that was just from shooting off emails, chatting up a handful of players, and glancing at archives in our spare time–before the game.

For the past two years, even before the espnW nonsense, my opinion has been a great big Good Riddance to ESPN.  I have the luxury of being outside of the economics of the mainstream-media-versus-women’s-sports mess, but give me my cynical moment. I would rather have internally produced media (look specifically at WPS) than processed, artificial, one-note ESPN games, features, and commentary. Our league is going to be on life support regardless of ESPN’s mainstream attention–and don’t get me wrong, this is not to let ESPN off the hook. It’s to say that ESPN coverage of women’s soccer (and women’s sports) is so half-assed that it would hardly make a difference.

[It’s] really critical for these guys to understand that they’re not the target audience, either. And on the surface, although this may seem like an easy target for a quick joke, if they ever want their sisters, daughters or granddaughters to have the opportunity to experience financial success as professional athletes, they’ll need to support (or at least not mock) a major sports media company when they build opportunities for female athletes to get attention.

Emphasis mine, and I don’t buy it. If ESPN were to genuinely build opportunities for female athletes, the female athletes would be on ESPN, getting coverage on par with male athletes. So that when you’re channel surfing or walk through a room where the TV is always set to ESPN (hello, student union at my undergrad alma mater) you have a chance of catching a glimpse of any female athlete the same way you currently have a chance of any male athlete.

So espnW? Still half-assed, ghettoizing, passing of the buck.

[Essentially, you can look at this the same way Lindsey Mean looks at FIFA.com in “Making Masculinity and Framing Femininity.” Next up in Ruth’s Anger Series, “Here Is What I Really Think of Alex Morgan’s Call-Up,” and “Why Do You Automatically Assume I’m Going to Offend Someone?”

Edit: Okay, so I’m not as angry as my friends.]

WCC welcomes BYU!

Now that I’m “back” from my vacation (WPS games of Boston-Philly and FC Gold Pride-Sky Blue FC and webcasts of the Women’s Rugby World Cup) it’s time to belatedly mention the West Coast Conference expansion!

The new West Coast Conference map, courtesy of WCCSports.com.

Brigham Young University will be leaving the Mountain West Conference to join our beloved West Coast Conference in 2011. According to the press release, “This is the first time the West Coast Conference has formally invited an institution as a full member since Gonzaga University and the University of San Diego began competing in the WCC in 1979.” There is a lot of emphasis in all of the quotes about BYU being a “private, faith-based institution with a strong academic reputation and tradition of excellence in athletics,” which is one of the cool things about the WCC. The press conference from BYU emphasizes that this move will give them more media exposure and make them more accessible.

The big drawback with BYU is that they have a football program–but that will not be affiliated with the WCC and will go independent. Other sports that won’t compete in the WCC include track and field, softball, and swimming.

So what does this mean for women’s soccer? I think it will make the conference schedule more competitive. BYU recently beat Northwestern (2-1) and Washington State (3-1). Both are ranked opponents from strong conferences. Northwestern, notably, beat UCLA 1-0 this season. BYU is off to a strong start already, ranked 12th in the nation, and they have a decent schedule overall in 2010. Coming up, they will play LSU, Marquette, Texas, New Mexico, Santa Clara, and Utah. Last season, they beat ranked UConn, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Oregon and advanced to the second round of the NCAAs (dropping to Stanford).

And because this is CCC, I have to plug the social media:

And to think I was planning to write about the Pac-10…

Before the Cross-Conference Collector became the two-person, two-pronged project that it is today, it was my personal return to sports blogging. I’ve had an off and on relationship with such things over the years, but “Cross-Conference Collector” is the name that has stuck since 2008. These seven or eight months of working on the project with Joan are the most consistent that I’ve ever been with the blog.

For me, the name of this blog has personal significance. It stems from my preference for college sports and my affinity for conferences. I like that breakdown, I like the way it functions, and I like the way those affiliations and borders function. So, mainly, the name of the blog referred to how I “collect” teams to follow in various conferences, and that’s how I get to know those conferences and the teams within them.

But with the two of us here, “Cross-Conference” takes on added meaning. Joan is a Portland Pilots fan, and I, for all that I collect college teams, am first and foremost a Santa Clara Broncos fan. Portland and SCU are West Coast Conference schools, and both are religiously affiliated. In fact, all of the schools in the conference are affiliated with Christian denominations (mostly Catholic and most of those, Jesuit).

The SCU-Portland match-up is one of most important games of every fall season. These two schools are consistently the top of the conference. They have both won the national championship. Santa Clara has, on occasion, beaten UNC. This is the in-conference rivalry, and it’s generally televised. Are there other women’s college soccer rivalries that get that honor?

This year, our game is at Santa Clara on Sunday, October 24, on ESPNU. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes–Dear God, please spare the Broncos’ ligaments this year–this is the game Cross-Conference looks forward to.

Recapping the U-20 WWC quarterfinals

My first trip to FIFA.com this morning and what do I see? Fatigue blamed for USA failureare you joking me, Heif Ellis? Does anyone really believe that? Sure, this team was probably fatigued, but that is a cheap excuse for the failure. Were they fatigued in qualifiers? Were they fatigued in that first game against Ghana, through all the rest of group play? If fatigue is to blame, then that just backs up the heart of the issue: this wasn’t the team the US was looking for. The force was not strong with these players. Jill Ellis cannot discern when it’s a trap. Need I go on?

This picture from the USWNT blog describes the US U-20s' performance perfectly. I agree, Nairn.

Let’s have some links.

July 29, Semifinals (in Eastern time)

  • 9:30 AM – Germany vs Korea Republic
  • 12:30 PM – Columbia vs Nigeria

The U-20 WWC knockout rounds begin!

Tumblr is having difficulties this morning, so it’s time for another post o’ links. Today is game day for Germany-Korea DPR and Sweden-Columbia (is Sweden already down by 2?) and the only one I’m sorry I’ll be missing is Germany-DPRK.

Let’s look at US business first, since I have been ignoring them.

I’d like to highlight the commentary we’ve been getting from the ESPN3 webcasts. The commentary on the Mexican games has been wonderful (especially if you’re sick of FSC’s WPS games). One quote, which I cannot remember word for word, essentially boiled down to, “If you’re struggling with the pronunciation of names, ask the players and coaches.” In the game against Nigeria, after a sub came on, it was, “There are two Sundays in the game now… suppose that makes it a fortnight.” If you are going to commentate a women’s soccer game, you have to relax and enjoy it.

Here is the FIFA business:

By the end of all this collecting, Sweden has not managed to come back. 2-0, Columbia advance. Time for me and the Swedes to pack and hit the road!

Alina Garciamendez and the goal

I hear that the US Soccer matchtracker gushed about Mexico’s goal to tie Nigeria yesterday, and it sounds as though there were repeated uses of “brilliant” with regards to Alina Garciamendez’s shot. FIFA.com named it the goal of the day.

I agree, that is pretty and impressive coming from the Stanford defender, but why are you following the US games through ussoccer.com’s matchtracker? The ESPNs have all of the US games, usually with better commentary.

For good measure, here is the final celebration, as this 2010 squad have advanced Mexico’s U-20s to their first appearance in the quarterfinals.