The public doesn't seem to care much for female team athletics. It's proven.
From 1996 to 2002, organizers launched five major pro women's leagues in basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball, and only one --- the Women's National Basketball Association --- remains. The top NCAA men's basketball programs draw more than 16,000 to their games, while the women average around 8,000.
What can we do? What we usually do. Create a new law to fix the discrepancies.
I suggest tweaking Title IX, which has succeeded in establishing US female athletics the last three decades, but has been woeful in drawing Joe Six-Pack to its games. We need to pass legislation stating that men's and women's attendance at like sporting events must be equal or in favor of women.
For instance, if the Syracuse women's basketball team averages just 1,063 people, then the Syracuse men, which drew 21,825 per game last year, should be allowed just 1,063 too. That will send a message that we will no longer tolerate the public's discriminatory attendance practices, which are just downright disgusting.
Many have had other thoughts on how to increase interest in women's team sports. FIFA president Sepp Blatter suggested that women wear tighter shorts in soccer, citing female volleyball uniforms as an example. That didn't go over well across the world. Many women, in fact, were ready to rip Sepp, well... a new blatter.
But Blatter's idea is not without some grounding. Women's tennis is among the world's most popular sports, and the women's game is more fascinating than the men's, partly because they actually volley between serves. But women's tennis also stimulates male interest, I'm sorry to say, because it features some attractive women in short skirts and tight tank tops, such as 17-year-old Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and 23-year-old Anna Kournikova, both of them sex symbols.
Women's tennis captivates the public more than women's team athletics because it allows participants to maintain their femininity during play. By contrast, women's team sports are more physical and masculine in nature. And they struggle for wider appeal. The reality is that women's teams are typically considered minor league compared to their male counterparts. And if there's a choice, people will likely watch the men instead of the women.
So females should take advantage of what makes their team sports most different from male sports --- their femininity. There's no shame in capitalizing on that. Women's soccer has already taken advantage, to a certain extent. If Landon Donovan kicked the game-winning World Cup goal for the US men and tore off his shirt, it would be no big deal. But when US player Brandi Chastain did it in 1999, her photo was flashed across the world. And it made her an international celebrity. She also brought gigantic attention to women's soccer.
In the 1980s, when women really started making an impact in corporate workforces, the clothes they wore were male-influenced and dreadful. Now, the corporate female couture is more complementary to the female form (no, I'm not auditioning for Queer Eye). Take this one step farther, into the realm of sport, and Blatter's suggestion doesn't seem so outlandish.
But it would seem to discriminate against women and defy the equality provisions of Title IX, unless, of course, men were forced to wear tight shorts as well, which I'm not sure the American public would want to see. Then again, it's debatable as to just how much soccer the American public wants to see anyway.
On the other hand, Americans love football. And it doesn't seem to bother anyone that the players' pants are tighter than Joan Rivers' face. So maybe there is hope after all. Seems to me tight pants could work wonders for men's and women's soccer.