What we're gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time. When the only people that existed were roglodytes...cave men...cave women...Neanderthals...troglodytes...
Back in 2000, when the 20 Founding Mothers, fresh off of their World Cup win, were busily going on strike and blackmailing the USSF by threatening to quit the sport and make them look like - well, like Neanderthals, they decided to start up A League of Their Own.
So after getting USWNT Head Coach Tony DiCicco fired for not being able to shut Julie Foudy up, and forcing USSF General Secretary Hank Steinbrecher, who had cravenly caved in to them, to resign in disgrace, they teamed up with some cable TV moguls (John Hendricks and Amos Hostetter primary among them), announced the founding of WUSA and applied to the still sore-assed misogynists at USSF for sanctioning.
The Federation was not inclined to look kindly on much of anything the little ladies came up with at this point and so were happy to receive - some would say they desperately solicited - a competing application from MLS to found what would be known as WMLS. Said application was, to put it mildly, looked upon favorably in the halls of Soccer House.
The Mothers were incensed, believing that a bunch of hairy, smelly, belching men were attempting to coopt their beautiful league in order to save the obviously failing MLS, and the entire USWNT announced that they would only sign with WUSA.
MLS finally withdrew their application after signing an ad deal and an agreement that MLS owners could in fact invest in WUSA teams if they so chose. Shockingly, none ever did.
And whether or not Julie Foudy actually told people that they did not want MLS to "piggyback on our attendances", as many people claim, one member of the team was quoted by ESPN The Magazines' Jeff Bradley as saying exactly that. Other sources claim that both Foudy and Brandy Chastain repeated it, privately, to more than one reporter, although to be fair there is no recorded proof of this.
But the question of which players said what to whom is secondary to the fact that clearly that's exactly what they believed, and there is no question that Chastains' famous "WUSA is the only pro soccer league in the US with World Class players" line was quoted correctly, as was Foudy's reply to Jay Leno: "MLS? What's that?"
The rest, of course, is history. WUSA burned through something like $100 million in an astonishing three years and promptly collapsed due to - bluntly - lack of interest.
MLS meanwhile, despite losing all but three owners, contracting two teams and losing an estimated $350 million in it's first nine years, has survived and, while perhaps not thriving all across the map, appears - knock on wood - to be making solid, dare we say permanent, inroads into the American sporting landscape while WUSA is a fading memory, a footnote which would be relegated to a dusty corner of the US Soccer Museum if there still was such a thing outside of a pile of boxes in the back of the Eurosport warehouse in North Carolina.
Now it's pretty much beyond debate that MLS was indeed primarily interested in picking up some customers via the success of the Womens' team, and that the WMLS would have played second fiddle to the mens' clubs, playing the front end of double headers and then clearing out so that the boys could start the real games, and that all of that would have been hard for the ladies to swallow.
On the other hand, there's a very strong likelihood that there'd now be 18 Division I professional womens' teams in North America, with one going into Montreal in less than a year.
Of course from MLS' point of view, Foudy & Co. did them a tremendous favor when they stuck their noses in the air, slammed the door on floundering, red-ink drowning MLS and went their own way, if for no other reason than once they started it they would have been hard pressed to fold the thing up in favor of the men. That's not the kind of thing you can get away with.
Womens' professional soccer probably wouldn't be any more profitable than it is now, but MLS owners would now be picking up the tab. One wonders whether Hunt, Anschutz and Kraft ever trade sly smiles and say "Boy! Dodged a freakin bullet that time, didn't we?"
Because the irony is that they would have been the ones who "saved" womens' first division professional soccer in the US, instead of the guy who actually did, at least for the moment, and in contrast to the MLS guys, nobody outside of his immediate family likes him much.
Which brings us to Dan Borisow, founder and CEO of magicJack and latest owner of a team in the latest, and in all probability the last, incarnation of Division I soccer.
When the aforementioned John Hendricks decided, after a decade of bathing in red ink, decided to stop carrying the Washington Freedom around on his back, it looked like WPS was toast. Nobody believed that Sunil Gulati would agree to allowing a five team league especially considering the fight he was in at the time with NASL over their inability to convincingly field eight.
So Borislow stepped in and agreed to take over the Freedom and WPS lived to play another year, and everyone was happy. Until Borilsow started opening his mouth.
To give you an example of what that experience sounds like, we're indebted to the highly respected Potomac Soccer Wire, which caught up with Mr. magicJack at a youth tournament where he was busy coaching his daughters' U14's.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2iCpMoRlLY"]YouTube - Jefferson Cup 2011 interview with Dan Borislow, Palm Beach MagicJacks[/ame]
Whoa! Easy up the charm offensive there, Dan.
Of course a big part of the problem with this video, which was filmed less than a month ago, is that, frankly, he seems to be lying about a few things.
Most notably, the WPS denies that they ever once demanded that they play "all their games down in Florida" and, in fact, it's doubtful they had much interest in moving the team at all. For their part, Puma isn't talking but it's hard to see them making such a demand either.
(He also later retracted his comments about flying in three ringers - excuse me, "guest players" from California for his daughters' team. He now says there was only one, although as the head coach, standing there watching his team warm up before a match it's difficult to imagine him getting confused who his players are.)
Then again, that's been the way pretty much everything has gone with Old Dan.
For example, he keeps renaming the team: at various times he's announced that they're to be called magicTalk SC, magicTalk/Washington Freedom, magicTalk’s Washington Freedom, magicJack FC and just magicJack. And this past weekend, as the league was announcing that their opening game (in Philadelphia) was being postponed, the league referred to his team as "South Florida magicJack, which is almost the only name he hasn't announced aside from Oakland Bay Area Bombers.
Then again, the league itself is flying blind since, as of today, two weeks into the season, Dans' team still doesn't have a website. Hit the link on the WPS site and THIS IS WHAT YOU GET
Not that it matters much, since he doesn't have a ticket sales staff, a marketing staff or even a PR guy and has done exactly no advertising.
But then, since they'll be playing in 1500 seat Florida Atlantic University Stadium, there aren't that many seats to sell anyway although if you want to buy one you have call the FAU athletic department since, of course, he doesn't have a ticket sales number or anyone to answer it.
When FAU finally announced the pricing, we discovered that season ticket packages are $75 for general admission and reserved seating for just $120.
That's $120 for the season. In a 1500 seat building.
Which may be one reason why he's apparently decided not to participate with the rest of the league in the shared stat service and video tape distribution outfit which is part of the leagues' per-game $20,000 fee which he says he won't pay.
There's much more, but you get the idea.
The problem is that while everyone seems to agree that the guy is a flake of the first water, they also have to admit that the WPS would not exist if he hadn't stepped up to the plate.
What's more, Borislow himself may not have anything like as much disposable cash to toss at something which was a dicey financial proposition to begin with and with the way he's running it seems almost certain to be a black hole sucking money, since THE FCC HAS RULED AGAINST HIM in a dispute with AT&T which, since I'm not into the whole VOIP thing I don't completely grasp but which seems to mean that his W-2 next year is going to have a couple fewer zeroes.
When you're drowning you normally don't care a bit about the character of the guy who tosses you a lifeline. But if all he's really doing is prolonging the agony, maybe you'd just as soon he kept on sailing by.
And MLS has Julie and the girls to thank for the fact that making womens' professional soccer work, and keeping all those ladies employed, is someone else's problem.