As Los Angeles Sol, Saint Louis Athletica, Chicago Red Stars and FC Gold Pride fans can attest, yesterday's sudden admission of defeat after previous Ba'athistly claiming the opposite wasn't completely out of character for Were Playing Soccer. WPS truly died as it lived. It would be easy to blame Dan Borislow, so that's exactly what WPS did. Borislow had this to say at Virginia Online Soccer News:
No, this is where I draw the line. Life is too short to cut and paste Dan Borislow.
But for once in his life, he has a point that's not on the top of his head. WPS really did announce they would play games, and really did announce that friendlies with Borislow was part of the settlement. Yes, he did not get his doctorate in taking hints from any accredited school, but you can understand why he felt a little left out of the conversation.
This was WPS in a nutshell, where it belonged. Women's Professional Soccer was in a state where it felt it could trust Dan Borislow in the first place. No, there was no way the league could guess that someone who made his fortune off Internet technology wouldn't even set up a website for his team. But then again, this was a league that put a lot of faith in Jeff Cooper - and then managed to find someone who made him look like Art Rooney in comparison.
If you really want to blame someone for WPS failing, blame the recession. Yeah, it'll be nice one day when a women's soccer league outlasts the Confederate States of America. But WPS made a good attempt in a bad, bad economy. Women's club soccer doesn't have the margin for error that the men's game does - and MLS made mistakes that tower over WPS' missteps.
However, in case you were tempted to ever feel sorry for Borislow, read this from former Boston GM Andy Crossley:
We knew that MagicJack owner Dan Borislow did not like athletic trainers and refused to provide one for his team. During pre-season, we taped their players in an exhibition match. We debated whether we would do the same on this night, in a crucial match with playoff implications. Sure enough, Christie Rampone and others asked if we would tape them. In the best interests of the game, we helped our opponents. We lost 2-0.
It's not Borislow I'm mad at right now. Borislow didn't act alone. He had help. He had the strong support of people who should have known better. Those are the people I'm mad at right now. If you ask me - and, in fairness, you went to great lengths to avoid asking me - Abby Wambach and her fellow Magic stars not only deserve a great deal of blame for killing WPS, they have also dealt a serious blow to the ideals of women's sports.
Ella Masar, a former player for the Boca Raton Daddy's Girls came out and confirmed the sun was hot, and that Dan Borislow belonged nowhere near women's athletics. Read the whole damn thing. If you have already, read it again.
Creepy, huh? It's amazing that this sort of thing could happen in professional women's sports. And it's amazing that Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Shannon Boxx, Christie Rampone and Megan Rapinoe could do nothing about it.
Take poor, poor Abby Wambach. This shy, delicate flower, whose only thought was to uphold the ideals of traditional womanhood, had to remain silent while her big, strong daddy ran his club his way. If only we as a society wanted to hear anything from Abby Wambach except, say, how to bake a pie or something. Perhaps someday, women like Abby Wambach won't be weak, small, helpless tools of male power. Why didn't we listen? Why oh why didn't we listen?
Let me just focus on this for a minute, though:
I saw some things that I will never forget and finally understood the dark side of money.
And I’ll tell you this . . .
If you asked me if I could have all the money, all the accolades, the biggest contracts, but turn into some of the people I experienced in my 2011 season. I would say NEVER in my life.
Because this is what I know.
Records are set to be broken. That’s why they were made. They were made because someone did something incredible but have no doubt, someone else will come along to set the bar just that much higher. It’s not the World Cup’s won, the goals scored, or your net worth that people remember in 10, 20, 30 plus years, its YOU.
It’s what YOU stood for; it’s YOUR legacy. Your heart, your hard work, your integrity, your professionalism, and your dedication are what people will be able to tell their children NOT the dollar sign.
Throughout this whole experience I know that I kept my integrity. I, by no means, did what was right all the time but at the end of the day I know I stood for what I believed. That no amount of money, no amount of a bribe, or a poker chip could take me away from what I felt in my heart.
And Dan, I hope you are happy. Congratulations you won. You get to protect your “friends.” I just hope one day you can look back at and see this for what it was really worth.
Money can buy friendships but it can’t buy loyalty. I wish you could have seen what really happened and was said about you especially from those who you thought were on your side.
I bolded the "And Dan" for a reason. Masar wasn't blasting Borislow in those previous paragraphs. She was blasting someone else. Or some other people. Maybe one in particular, maybe, say, four others.
I don't for one second blame the ordinary WPS player here. They're the ones who had to struggle for a paycheck while chasing a dream. They're the ones without whom we really do have no game. It's very hard to stand up to a boss in the best of times, and Borislow's threats to ban players from the game seemed all too plausible. I'm not blaming anyone dependent on WPS for gritting their teeth and keeping quiet.
But what does Masar's post really say? The state of women's soccer in this country is so poisoned, so fearful, so dark - that even the most famous names in the sport can't or won't stand up to a weird rich guy who wants to be called "Daddy." And that even the most famous names in the sport can't or won't stand up for their teammates. And that it's huge news when a mere ordinary player - remind me to get back to this - can call out an owner by name, but still can't call out by name the people equally at fault.
People like Hope Solo. Christie Rampone. Shannon Boxx. Megan Rapinoe. And Abby Wambach.
We were the ones who put them way, way up on the pedestal they asked for. We don't know these people. We never did. We're never shocked by male athletes acting like - hm, ironic that the perfect word here is "douchebags" - so why should we be surprised that women are equally capable of sucking up to the boss, screwing over their teammates and conning their fans? Maybe I shouldn't rail against Borislow. Maybe I shouldn't tell Abby Wambach to go **** herself (even from the safety of a computer monitor). Maybe I should thank them, for getting me to grow up.
Thanks, Mommy. Thanks, Daddy.
One last story before bedtime?
Once upon a time in the magic land of the 1990's, there was a women's soccer team who took ideals of teamwork, togetherness and empowerment and sold the living shit out of them. Many of those women became quite famous in the process. Maybe Christie Rampone read about it in a book or something.
And then in the festrous ooze of the 2000's, a women's soccer team didn't win quite as often but spent a lot of time carping about being in the shadows of that well-supported, well-loved and well-paid 1990's team. Were they not empowered? Were they not a team? Were they not, given the occasional ugly, public meltdown between Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, equally representative of heart-warming togetherness? Why should they not be loved and appreciated?
Suddenly, in 2011, that team did get the love and adoration they wanted so, so badly. They inspired a nation, and a generation.
Then they went home and let Dan Borislow make them call him "Daddy." The end.
And I'm supposed to give a crap about these people in the Olympics? Sorry, girls.
And while I'm opening up the window and yelling, I wish to God you all would stop saying things like - nothing personal, Mechelle, but you're on espnW, for crying out loud, so you can stand in for a lot of people (including way too many of your fellow posters, gentle reader):
Ultimately, the players opted to "go it alone" and not attempt to formally work with or for MLS. Whether such a partnership actually would have happened or been successful remains conjecture, but, in hindsight, it seems that foundation might have had a greater chance to remain structurally sound. Especially with the building of soccer-specific facilities for MLS teams, that league still might benefit from another tenant with a women's franchise, plus help the sport's long-term continued gains with American spectators.
Here's a quick reminder of what MLS was doing in 2000:
If MLS had tried to start a WMLS in 2000, then today we'd have no MLS, and a lot fewer happy World Cup memories. Hindsight is not 20/20 in this case - no one knew that the men's league would make it (assuming it has - you never ever know, people), and trying to run a separate league with next to no crossover between fanbases has proven a big enough challenge for the NBA. The WUSA, like WPS, didn't make all that many great decisions, but that one is unimpeachable.