Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Women's Pro Football - A little background

Someday someone is going to figure out how to make women's pro football a commercial success. 

The sport certainly has a wide appeal with nearly 100 teams currently active -  The Women's Football Alliance has 60 teams and The Independent Women's Football League 38.  If we assume 40 players per team, that's nearly 4,000 players countrywide. 

There are some outstanding women athletes out there.  Many of them playing for the Outlaws.  Monica Gauck is an all-around star who plays wherever she's needed, defense, offense, quarterback, running back, receiver, safety. 

Shadana Hurd is quick and elusive and just plain fun to watch as she zooms down the field. 

One of my favorites is linebacker Ski Tejeda who plays with a toughness I love - in this photo she wasn't in perfect position to make a clean tackle so she grabbed what she could, the running back's foot, and held on until teammates closed in to finish the play.

This blog will profile many of the Outlaws and possibly some of the talented players from other teams. 

But talent doesn't seem to be enough to assure commercial success. 

Fielding a team, establishing a league, attracting fans, and generating revenue - isn't easy.  And many organizations fail in the effort.

Other than the WFA and IWFL, I don't know how many other leagues and teams are out there because the field is constantly changing.  Wikipedia says the WPFL (Women's Professional Football League) is the oldest and longest operating league but I can't find a current website for them.  Teams come and go.  In the time I've been following the Outlaws, Dallas has had something like four different teams.  The Outlaws have been affiliated with three different leagues (plus one before I started covering them) and two of those disbanded.

With just four home games, it is difficult to establish a fan base.  The media tends to view Women's Pro Football as an oddity rather than sport; articles about the team don't appear on the sports page but rather in the "life" section of the paper.  The constant changing in teams as one disbands and another is formed makes it difficult to create rivalries that carry on through multiple seasons. 

Team owners haven't been willing to invest a whole lot of capital, so players have to earn a living and play football part-time.  And do fund raisers.  Which leaves them less time for coaching and practice.  It takes about $50,000 per year just to cover team expenses.  Without capital, there isn't much advertising.  Without advertising, there isn't enough awareness that we have a team.

The Outlaws are amazing in their success in this difficult marketing environment.  They're now playing their 11th season.  We believe that is the longest of any women's pro team. 

In a future posting I'll talk a little about their success. 

One key

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