USFL & ABL vs. NWSL

 

The United States Football League (USFL) opened in 82’ and closed in 85’ after only 3 short seasons. Founded by David Dixon, from New Orleans, Louisiana, the USFL announced its formation on May 11, 1982, at the 21 Club in New York City. During 1982-1985, the USFL fought a bitter war with the established National Football League (the NFL) for players, fans, and media attention. In July of 1986, with a month before the league was to begin its first fall campaign, the USFL won its suit against the NFL, but was awarded $3.76. It’s time couldn’t have been better. The USFL was formed in 1982, right when the NFL was headed towards a strike. The first kickoff of the USFL in 1983 came just weeks after the Redskins were crowned Super Bowl champions after a strike-shortened nine-game season and playoff tournament. The USFL started to get into bidding wars for players. Some teams went bankrupt, in Los Angeles, the team was well known for the $40 million contract given to Steve Young. The USFL wanted to extend their success after their first successful season and tried to play games in professional stadiums but were unable to do so because of overlapping schedules with the NFL. Which along with the high salaries were reasons why it failed to exist after three seasons.

ABL or American basketball league was an independent professional basketball league for women in the United States. It only lasted from 96’ to 98’ for only 2 full seasons. On December 22nd, 1998, with almost no warning the ABL declared bankruptcy and suspended all operations. It had a higher quality of play than the WNBA did because it signed majority of its players from the 96’ national team, a possible reason it failed was due to the higher salaries offered compared to that of the WNBA. Financially they could not compete with the WNBA and had to shut down all operations.

What can the new National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) learn from those leagues in order to stay afloat?

Since there is not a larger women’s soccer league they’re not competing like the USFL had to compete against the NFL, or the ABL trying to compete against the WNBA. If they don’t make the same mistake of spending too much money on salaries like the USFL or the ABL did, and correctly market their league, they should be able to sustain a successful sporting organization.
For a short term marketing strategy:
I would market the individual players. All ten of the highest paid women athletes are from individual sports. However, I think marketing a single player like “Hope Solo” brought a lot of attention to women’ soccer, in my opinion. Probably not the right message, since I think she is a bit of a mess, but she brought awareness to women’s sport.

Long term success:
I would continue working with NIKE and other large corporations for potential sponsors to increase awareness. Possible Women only companies like Lululemon, Athleta, might see more value and give the sport more attention than possibly NIKE, a mega-corporation. Nike is too huge of a corporation to “worry” or spend extra time on such a small market. Women specific entities are more likely to spend more or extra time and effort specific to women’s sporting events.

Bibliography:
http://www.funwhileitlasted.net/basketball/abl-galleries-1996-1998/
https://sites.google.com/site/remembertheusfl/home
http://www.nwslsoccer.com/

http://blogs.nfl.com/2013/01/17/a-brief-history-of-the-usfl/

http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml

 

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