"They aren't quick enough, and they aren't strong enough which should be enough to ensure that they aren't as richly rewarded in terms of prize money or funding."
That was just part of what Alan Swann had to say about women's sport in a piece that was published on the Peterborough Telegraph website on February 21. While women's cricket was his main target, Swann also threw a few jabs at other sports. He stated that ladies tennis is "pretty much unwatchable" and that it is "ludicrous" that stars such as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova can earn as much money as can top male players. He had this to say on football: "Ladies football is another sport I find impossible to watch, and I'm not alone looking at the attendances of top-flight games."
I'm not here to speak up on behalf of all female athletes, if for no other reason than my doing so would be at least a little hypocritical. It's not as if I am a WNBA season ticket holder (I've never been to a single game). I rarely watch any ladies tennis outside of the major competitions. I am familiar with McKayla Maroney for her being "not impressed" more so than because of her athletic accomplishments.
I, instead, want to focus just on football. Anybody who routinely watches top-flight men's and women's football will tell you that, all things considered, there aren't a lot of differences between the two. When the best of the best are on the pitch and giving it their all, you are usually in for an exciting 90 minutes of action. Sure, you're obviously going to get some boring and dull matches from time to time. You can say the same about men's football. Believe it or not, every Premier League match isn't a gem;
especially when Stoke are playing (I kid, I kid (kinda)).
Just look back at the 2012 Champions League Final. A match involving Bayern Munich and Chelsea, undeniably two of the more stacked sides in the world last May, played well over an hour of "meh" football before things finally got exciting. Swann lumping all of women's football together and calling it "impossible to watch" is no different than American sports fans saying that soccer is boring merely because they caught a few scoreless draws on TV or they watched one lackluster Major League Soccer contest.
Truth be told, the most exciting football match in 2012 may very well have featured members of the fairer sex. If you couldn't get into the edge-of-your-seat thriller involving the United States and Canada that took place at the London Summer Olympics, than you're either a cynic who refuses to admit when he/she is wrong, or football just isn't a sport that you fancy all that much. As I sit here typing, I cannot recall a match that was a better advertisement for the sport as a whole in 2012.
I wasn't the only person who went out of the way to watch the women's competition last summer. The gold medal match involving the USWNT and Japan drew in historic numbers for NBC Sports Network. Over 1.4 million people streamed the match via NBCOlympics.com (and that doesn't include those who streamed via third-party websites), and over 80,000 fans watched the game live in-person. Those are pretty solid numbers for a top-flight women's event, yes?
One reason I am somewhat of a poor ambassador of football is that I don't feel that it's my job to force anybody into liking any league. Those who make fun of MLS will only become fans on their own time if that day ever arrives, and there is little that I can do to change that fact. The same holds true for women's football. Mr. Swann not being a fan of the women's game affects my life very little outside of this piece.
It's just a shame that he's going to miss a lot of quality football in the future.
Zac has been covering the USWNT, Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.