We were all supposed to watch NWSL this weekend. I was supposed to go to a sold-out Audi Field and hear 19,000 people cheer for the Washington Spirit. And most importantly for me personally, I was supposed to catch up with a dozen different people that I haven’t seen in months.
That didn’t happen because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. We have no idea when NWSL will start its season, or what shape it will take, or if fans will be allowed to attend matches. Teams are apparently confident enough in an eventual return to normalcy to sign very expensive players, but it feels unlikely that a recognizable NWSL will return before the fall.
NWSL games in empty stadiums might be necessary from both a business and public health perspective, but they’re not going to feel good. Because the thing that got me into the game in the first place — and I suspect the same is true for many of you — is community.
I love the actual on-field part of soccer. I’d watch any 22 players, in front of no supporters, on the moon. I watch hundreds of hours of bad college soccer so that I can feel knowledgeable about fourth round draft picks even though I don’t work for a team and my employer doesn’t care. But that came second; I learned to love the nerdy stuff several years into following soccer. Community matters more, and it’s the first hook for most people.
As much as I miss live soccer, I miss the people I interact with during it a lot more. I miss my colleague from this website, Jason Anderson, everyone else in the Washington Spirit press box — the team staff and volunteers, the fans who say hi to me, and my friends who go to games regularly. This weekend, I thought about how it should have been the first time in months that I got to see all of them.
I obviously have a more professional relationship with NWSL players and coaches, but I still thought about how refreshing they are to talk to, relative to anyone else I ever have to deal with in a professional capacity. They’re generous with their time, their thoughts, and their emotions. It’s never felt like a chore to speak with any of them. And during a week that I had to listen to a lot of corporate nonsense, I missed having professional conversations with people who are emotionally honest.
It’s hard for me to get out of bed in the morning when times are good, and it’s been even harder now that most of the things that got me out of bed prior to March have disappeared from our lives. But what made me want to get up and write this post this morning was my desire to share a couple of things I believe with y’all:
1) Women’s soccer kicks ass.
2) It will come back even better than it was before.
I am not a virologist or epidemiologist or government official, but I am choosing to believe that our favorite sports league — and more importantly, our community — will eventually return in a recognizable form. I was very sad this weekend, but I’m certain that we’ll all get to hang out at the soccer stadium again soon.
Whenever we’re back, I’m the chick in the rainbow beanie with the long brown pony tail. Please say hi.