(UPDATES: Solo’s Tweets have disappeared, and ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle says she denied deleting them. Also, the league is going to hire people to put up sponsor signage and shoot video of the games, then send magicJack the bill. See the harshly worded statement.)
Hope Solo was apparently surprised, judging by her Twitter output today. Others really weren’t.
WPS laid down the hammer today on magicJack, deducting a point for continued noncompliance with league rules. And as Jenna Pel and Jeff Kassouf tell it, this is merely the latest step in a weeks-long escalation from warning to fine to loss of draft picks to loss of a point.
Those punishments weren’t made public. And judging from Solo’s Tweets, we have to wonder if the players were even aware of the issues.
The most-publicized issue with magicJack was the lack of media access. Pel’s report says the team was indeed fined after failing to allow postgame interviews in its second home game. But players were available for comment after the team’s last game, so that issue might be resolved.
The quiet reassignment of head coach Mike Lyons is a non-issue. WPS requires a head coach to have an “A” license, but coaches have a two-year grace period. So in the short term, magicJack won’t be violating any policies, no matter who’s in charge.
A quick look at the other issues:
– Lack of sponsor signage. Some photos from the last magicJack game showed a few banners hanging near the field. We’ll have to see if that’s enough to appease the league. Sponsorship is one area in which the league has made progress; failing to live up to obligations on that front would undermine one of the bright spots in the league’s business history.
– Failure to upload game video for scouting and stats. That’s a competitive issue, and it’ll be interesting to see what magicJack owner Dan Borislow has to say about it. Jeff’s report says other teams are furious.
– Failure to have a functioning Web site. Jenna says the team got an extension, which seems fair for a new team. Borislow has said he’ll market the team at the appropriate time. A few people on Twitter have volunteered to keep up the team’s site, but it’s not really that simple.
– Stadium capacity. WPS might not have a leg to stand on here. They knew the situation ahead of time, and it’s really up to Florida Atlantic getting more bleachers ready.
– Pressbox sight lines. This complaint can’t go anywhere. Even at the Maryland Soccerplex, an ideal venue in every respect other than the distance from D.C. and Northern Virginia, the corners of the field are obscured from most seats in the pressbox.
So some of these issues should be easily resolved, and others will simply require patience.
The bigger issue: Borislow and WPS clearly have differing views on how to run a soccer team and league. Usually, negotiations about how to run things take place in the offseason. Here, they’re unfolding before our eyes. And unfortunately, we can see all this drama, but we can’t see video highlights of this wonderfully talented team in action.
The players seem happy, judging by the few public comments and Ella Masar’s blog. The fans who can see the team seem happy. The questions are these:
- What responsibility does a WPS team have to fans of the women’s game who can’t commute to South Florida? Highlights? More media access?
- What responsibility does a team have to other teams in its league?
- What responsibility does a team have to its league’s sponsors and backers?