Buzz won't last long
Grahame L. Jones
Los Angeles Times
Consider the koi, a suitable comparison because Japan won the Women's World Cup. It now and then rises to the surface for a gulp of air, then sinks again into the depths. So it is with women's soccer every four years. The buzz of Germany 2011 will not be felt again until Canada 2015. By then, Women's Professional Soccer might have joined the dodo and WUSA, the previous attempt to make women's soccer fly in the U.S.
So is there more respect than four weeks ago? Yes, because the improved quality of play was evident and the tournament had its dramatic moments. But overall, among average sports fans, probably not. No more so than there is respect for softball or the WNBA or the LPGA or any other niche sport.
Fans: It's on you now
The women's game likely gained some new fans in the last month because of a higher quality of play than in the past. But will that translate into a more viable professional league?
That's the real question. Ideally, MLS teams also would have a women's team, but the league isn't strong enough yet to absorb those expenses. The onus is on women sports fans.
Women's professional sports leagues will thrive only when women increase their support and younger girls watch games on TV and drag their parents out to more games.
It's up to you, ladies.
Respect is fleeting
Yes, the U.S. women's team is more respected, but it's likely a fleeting appreciation.
National pride and success in the world's most popular sport always combine to create this "respect," but if women's soccer was not nationally respected before the World Cup — the U.S. has a No.1 FIFA ranking, three Olympic gold medals and two previous Cup wins — there wasn't much hope.
The World Cup always brings some pop-culture traction to the men's and women's national teams, but we've yet to see that traction carry over to the domestic leagues — MLS and WPS. If the public doesn't fill stadiums and force mainstream media coverage between now and the next World Cup, soccer will continue to be a niche sport in America.
Brazil win was huge
Once the U.S. reached the Women's World Cup final (not a big surprise), and the opponent was Japan (a big surprise), victory seemed headed our way. But the Japanese were writing their own feel-good story. Still, the Americans lost nothing in terms of respect.
A lot of people had a Brazil-Germany final, so when the Americans took out Brazil in a memorable quarterfinal, respect was theirs. They overcame a controversial red card, tied the score late in extra time and then won on penalty kicks. That stirring victory will be remembered for years to come.
The U.S. headed into the World Cup respected as one of the best soccer programs on the women's side. They leave it just the same.