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Snippet: NWSL Fans Are Online, Organized, and Refuse to Be Ignored ☇

Shared on July 17, 2020

Nicole Wetsman for The Verge:

Despite being arguably the best and most competitive women’s professional soccer league in the world and home to global stars like Rose Lavelle, Christine Sinclair, and Debinha, coverage of the NWSL is limited. Women’s sports receive only 4 percent of sports media coverage overall, and in May 2020, only 7 percent of sports stories in major US newspapers focused on women, according to an analysis in the sports newsletter Power Plays. Two prior attempts at a women’s pro league in the US, both of which folded after three seasons, faced similar issues. Major sports outlets seemed to only pay attention if something was going wrong.

Without mainstream attention, NWSL fans and supporters have turned to social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter to build their own coverage and push for the type of recognition and attention they know the league needs. “The league has never really been on TV. So you’re watching games online,” says Meg Linehan, who covers the NWSL and the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) for The Athletic. “If I’m going to look up something about women’s soccer that I don’t know, honestly, sometimes my first stop is still the Twitter search bar.”

I’ll be honest, I was not expecting to see a story about the NWSL come across my RSS reader this morning (and it’s been awhile since I’ve written about it here). I’ve been enjoying the Challenge Cup, as it’s been a nice distraction from our current hellscape. CBS’s presentations have been really well done (aside from The Glare™), and it’s looking like the whole thing can be categorized as a success.

There’s been some ridiculous fun on Twitter and Reddit during games that probably seems even better due to just a little bit of quaran-time madness setting in. The fact that so much of the fandom feels generally pleasant, and even that the commentators are getting into it gives it a unique feel that I doubt we’ll see with the other bubbled-sports when they start soon.

In the meantime, if you’re curious, the knockout round has just started today and the #1-seeded North Carolina Courage were eliminated by the #8-seeded Portland Thorns. The Courage were the 2018 and 2019 champs, so it’s kind of like if the New England Patriots or Golden State Warriors got eliminated early. CBS All Access has a free trial, so you can check out the remaining games and the final will be on regular CBS (despite not really liking the new branding, I’m still pulling for the Reign).

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