You would think that there wouldn’t be much of anywhere to hide for the NWSL after not only the Yates Report came out in the fall but the NWSL’s and NWSLPA’s joint report followed it yesterday, both detailing the rampant mistreatment, abuse, and ass-covering that followed that various coaches, front offices, the league itself, and U.S. Soccer have engaged in for pretty much the league’s entire existence. That doesn’t mean the league didn’t try to find one.
The joint report from the league and union dropped yesterday, and while it goes over a lot of known territory that we got from the Yates report or Meg Linehan’s brilliant reporting last year, there are some new things from different teams we hadn’t seen before. As well as former USWNT manager Jill Ellis attempting to stick her head in the sand about various reports from her players, including Christen Press. Even the new incidents the report covers follow a familiar tale, of a coach being insulting in a racist/sexist fashion, or crossing the boundaries of a player/coach relationship and sometimes forcefully so, and no one listening when the players came for help. The report details a lot of U.S. Soccer and NWSL trying to pass the buck to each other, even though they were basically the same organization until last year.
What was disappointing is that if the report was meant to cleanse with light, it’s hard to do that when it was released right at the kickoff of the World Cup semifinal. The press conference to follow right after the final whistle of France-Morocco. While the women’s game should be separate from the men’s, the media that covers the former is still mostly also covering the latter. The attention of most fans would have been fixated on the game on Wednesday afternoon. It’s hard to not think that the NWSL tried to slip this under the radar, in some attempt to move past all of this without scrutiny. If the goal is to bring everything to fans’ and media’s attention, to let your fans know that the league is doing everything it can to change, why are they doing it when most everyone is looking over there? And shouldn’t the players’ union, the organization whose sole purpose is to protect players, push to have this released in a different window? Say, on Thursday when there’s nothing going on in the soccer world?
The crux of the whole controversy and furor is a group of people, be they individual teams’ front offices or the NWSL or U.S. Soccer, trying to get away with things they shouldn’t have been trying to get away with. Trying to shove reports of abuse and mistreatment under the rug hoping it would go away. Or hoping that someone else would deal with it, passing the buck at every turn. Releasing this report that’s supposed to be the disinfectant at a time which essentially acts as a Friday newsdump still feels like a version of passing the buck, of hoping it would go away, that enough people wouldn’t notice.
The league should know better. Despite it’s callousness in the past, it has momentum thanks to a variety of factors–the redemption championship of the Portland Thorns, expansion in San Diego and L.A. that provided the league ravenous fanbases, the upcoming World Cup–and yet it seems like it’s all by accident with the way the league is run. There have been major changes, and there is hope that the league is turning a new leaf, but those are offset by trying to slip this by. What the NWSL needs now is to regain trust from its fans, and this isn’t the way to go about it.
Ok, so I’m gonna change gears in violent fashion, and do it to say that Chris Jericho is just the best, when it comes to wrestling that is.
Last night on AEW Dynamite, Jericho did something we never see on wrestling TV. He had what looked to be the normal squash match that a big star gets, a way to keep them on TV and start to rehab them from a big loss, which Jericho had suffered on the ROH PPV the previous Saturday, dropping the ROH title to Claudio Castagnoli. Every wrestling fan has seen hundreds of these, a known wrestler getting in the ring with some local talent we’ve never heard of who only even gets his or her name announced when they’re already in the ring. That’s the way the phrase, “...and already in the ring” is something of a joke. They last five minutes, maybe the unknown local talent gets one spot, but then they’re flattened.
Jericho not only let Action Andretti — no seriously that’s his name — have 10-15 minutes in a match where he got plenty of offense in, but he then let Andretti go over and win!
Every time we see one of these matches on a card, there’s a small part of us that hopes that this will be the time when a company will totally pull the rug from under us and let the no-name have a real match, maybe even win. It never happens. And yet we keep hoping, even though we know it’ll never come to be. We can’t let go of that little burr within us, even though we know it’s pointless.
And yet it happened. Jericho knows he’s in a place where he can make this a story. Not only does he give someone like Andretti the rub of a lifetime, not only does he get people talking about AEW again, but he keeps fans locked in on every match like this for the next few months. We know that there won’t be anything like this again, some local talent/jobber going over an established star…but do we know for sure? So many more indie wrestlers who fill out cards will have more eyes on their matches for a while now, which does everyone a favor.
The match wouldn’t have had quite the effect if the Garland, Texas crowd wasn’t maybe the hottest of any crowd this year, which was eating up every move that Andretti made. Listen to these people:
But it’s not like Jericho wouldn’t have been aware of the crowd’s voraciousness, and played into it, and they utterly lost their minds when Andretti got the pin. It was an absolute treat, and it feels like one only Jericho could have pulled off. Jericho is the anti-Rousey, and everyone ends up looking better after working with him.