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IS WOMEN'S SOCCER A ONE-HIT WONDER OR READY TO BRANCH OUT?
Published July 13, 1999
IMG's TWI handles the TV rights and sponsorship for the U.S. Soccer Federation's men's and women's nat'l teams and it "has the flexibility to move or create new TV matchups" and TWI Senior VP Bob Horowitz said that, "It's safe to say that we're going to figure out ways to do something with [the U.S. women's soccer team] as soon as possible." USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes that "the key figures" in any women's team tour are Nike and Disney, and "one logical choice would be to take a" Nike-sponsored women's tournament in October. Hiestand: "TWI could create a new prime-time August matchup for ABC and ESPN" (USA TODAY, 7/13). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that "whether the World Cup frenzy translates into the start of a professional women's league or a network frenzy to snare the rights to the 2003 tournament are uncertainties." Meanwhile, ABC Sports President Howard Katz, asked if the net would televise the 2003 WWC: "We're interested, but a lot depends on if the American women win the Olympics next year." Fox Sports Group Chair David Hill is "not interested" in the 2003 event: "I don't think Saturday's game will have any lasting impact on U.S. TV ratings" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/13). ONE TOUR: The All-American Soccer Stars, which includes the entire U.S. WWC team, will play in their first-ever indoor soccer tour in 10-12 U.S. cities between October 22- December 12. The tour will be handled by SFX Family Entertainment and SFX Sports Group (SFX Sports Group). DRAWING CARD? Reaction to a possible women's league continues: In DC, Tony Kornheiser: "Women's sports have been growing and building for years, and this is another escalation -- not some biblical revelation. ... For all the breathless commentary, let's remember that women's soccer is not the NFL. If they put a women's pro soccer league out there tomorrow, the games would draw 7,000 people max" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13). In Dallas, Kevin Blackistone writes women's soccer "has some outstanding players, but a lot more who are mediocre at best. The worst thing that could happen is to roll out a league with players who can't play and demean the game" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/13). In K.C., Jason Whitlock: "Talk of a pro league is ridiculous to me. There isn't enough talent to support a pro league. The sport ... needs to be strengthened first" (K.C. STAR, 7/13). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes that a women's league is "a great idea in theory," but "unless a niche cable channel, say, Lifetime for example, is willing to step forward, the great idea will remain just that, a great idea" (SUN, 7/13). In CA, Jim Barrero: "The fact we're sitting here in the summer of '99 debating the merits and prospects of a women's professional soccer league should be looked upon as a victory in itself" (San Gabriel VALLEY TRIBUNE, 7/13). NOTES: After the WWC increased the bonus pool for the U.S. team players, the USOC yesterday awarded an additional $120,000 to the team -- $6,000 for each of the 20 players (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/13)....World Cup exec Steve Vanderpool, on the U.S. team: "They're a group that everyone, including guys would want to drink beer with." William Morris' Rick Bradley: "I'm sure someone out there wants to do a TV movie about them" (EW, 7/16 issue).