The US Women's National Team were in action on Saturday morning, defeating Sweden 3-1 in an Olympic warmup match. That match aired live on NBC property Universal Sports Network, a network available to me via digital cable. If you're anything like me, however, your TV wasn't tuned into Universal Sports Network on Saturday morning. It's not because I decided to sleep in or that I simply had better things to do.
I wasn't watching because I had no idea the match was taking place.
My love for the USWNT doesn't match my love for the US Men's National Team for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't like to watch US Soccer whenever either team is featured in any televised match. Knowing that the US Women aren't currently involved in any significant tournament and that the USMNT have no matches scheduled this week, I only checked my standard "soccer on TV" schedules on Friday when reviewing what games I would watch over the weekend.
The official Major League Soccer schedule, which often lists USWNT/USMNT games, made no mention of Saturday morning's contest. I saw nothing about the game listed on general sports websites. Nobody, not even diehard soccer fans I know, said anything to me about the game before Saturday morning or during the actual game.
It's nothing new for a televised US Women's Soccer match that isn't airing on ESPN to get little to no love. With that said, I found this particular instance to be upsetting for multiple reasons. First is the fact that Euro 2012 is currently going on. Literally hundreds of thousands of American viewers, an increase of over 170 percent from Euro 2008, are watching soccer for several hours each and every day. Now would be the perfect time to advertise any and all games showing on TV in the United States.
Both ESPN and ESPN2 did well to advertise the station's Saturday evening Major League Soccer match throughout the week. I didn't see a single advertisement for Saturday morning's USWNT match during the week, though. I asked several fellow fans on Saturday if they saw any such commercial that I may had missed, and every person told me that they saw none. I'm not asking for a 60-second montage highlighting the stars of the current team. Surely, though, a 15-second commercial hyping the match once or twice a day over the past week wouldn't have cost Universal Sports/NBC or US Soccer all that much money.
ESPN also gets some of the blame. ESPN/ESPN2 routinely mention matches taking place on FOX Soccer, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX during the Premier League season, and MLS and USMNT matches showing on NBC Sports are also constantly mentioned on the two ESPN stations during the spring, summer and fall. I missed any such mention regarding Saturday's USWNT game while watching Euro 2012 everyday over the past week, which means that either one never happened, or that the mentions didn't happen enough.
I love watching the sport, and I almost always have a live soccer match on TV (until the wife informs me that she can take no more, of course). I'm also in a minority of American sports fans. One thing we have learned through vast experience is that America television viewers simply are not going to "work" to find live soccer games on TV. Truth be told, they shouldn't have to do so. It's really not that big of a deal in the big picture, of course, but it would be nice if soccer was exposed to as many Americans as possible whenever a golden chance, such as Euro 2012, comes.
For those interested, the US Women are next in action on June 18. That match will air on Universal Sports Network at 7 am ET.