Column: Women’s World Cup shows entertainment value in sport

By Erika Esola

Central Florida Future, U. Central Florida via UWIRE

Like any sports fanatic, ESPN is usually the channel that my TV is set to. There aren’t too many sports on TV, being that it’s July, so I’ve been watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Truthfully, I don’t typically watch or follow women’s sports, but one day I had nothing better to do and tuned in to a match between the United States and Colombia.

Twelve minutes into the match, Heather O’Reilly ripped a gorgeous ball past the Colombian keeper into the back of the net.

O’Reilly’s goal had me hooked and convinced.

Fast forward to the quarterfinals.

The match between Brazil and U.S., despite the awful officiating, was one of the most epic World Cup matches I’ve seen, men’s or women’s.

Between Brazil’s Marta and her beautiful Brazilian play, Hope Solo’s brilliant saves and Abby Wambach’s game-tying header to bring the match into penalties, it was a game for the ages.

So when the U.S.‘s Ally Krieger drilled the match-winning penalty kick against Brazil’s keeper to advance to the semifinals of the World Cup, I realized something: soccer is the most entertaining professional women’s sport. Not golf, basketball or tennis.

Why is ESPN shoving the WNBA down our throats and not WPS — Women’s Professional Soccer?

I’d rather watch a game between the Western New York Flash and magicJack of Boca Raton featuring Marta, Alex Morgan and Solo over Diana Taurasi unsuccessfully attempting to dunk with a much smaller basketball than males use.

Women’s soccer uses the same size net and ball as men’s, which, if anything, makes it more difficult for women to play.

According to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, shorter and smaller goal keepers in women’s soccer give an idea of what larger goals in a men’s game would look like. There is more space available vertically for goal-scorers, and goal keepers have to be able to make more acrobatic saves.

I’ve also observed that women’s soccer players take significantly fewer dives than males, which calls for a more entertaining match.

The talent discrepancy is obvious between the NBA and the WNBA; players in the WNBA simply aren’t as fast as NBA players, can’t jump as high or dunk. But is the talent discrepancy as obvious between the WPS and the, let’s say, MLS? I don’t think so.

According to Sports Illustrated, women’s soccer is more competitive and more watched than ever, averaging record viewership of millions in the U.S. during the World Cup.

For a comparison, the WNBA averages about 400,000 viewers per game. All things considered, ESPN needs to look into a television contract with the WPS.

The Women’s World Cup has been extremely entertaining so far and has proven something significant to sports fans across the U.S. — women’s sports can be entertaining.

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