Column by Cat Tacopina

Cat Tacopina
Cat Tacopina

As a journalism major, internships are vital to my college experience. I can’t graduate without one and getting a job is near impossible if you haven’t had one. As a big women’s soccer fan, I decided early on that I was going to try and get an internship with Women’s Professional Soccer.

That might have to change.

Currently, the WPS faces termination and may have to cancel their 2012 season, despite the hype and soccer-mania caused by the Women’s World Cup this past summer. U.S. Soccer has stated that they will not sanction the league in 2012 if they cannot find another owner for a sixth WPS team by Dec. 5. This would leave some of America’s best players with few options.

I could talk about how being a beat writer for a WPS team such as the Boston Breakers or the Western New York Flash is my dream job and how the league shutting down would crush that, but there are a lot of issues with this that mean a lot more. I can’t even begin to explain  how detrimental closing the league would be for female athletes, current and future.

All of us witnessed the heroics pulled off by the likes of Abby Wambach and Hope Solo this summer. We saw a country that doesn’t appreciate soccer like American football, rally behind 21 women who instilled hope and passion in the hearts of the people. We saw the best soccer team this country has offered since the Women’s World Cup team in 1999.

That team would not have been what it was without a venue like the WPS. The WPS gives a chance for not just U.S. players, but international players like Marta and Christine Sinclair somewhere to keep doing what they love. They get to grow and keep in shape with the league. However, the players who have already made a name for themselves are not the only ones who need this league.

The WPS is vital for younger players. Some of these women will not see an international tournament for a while, but they still need a place where they can continue to grow in their skill and confidence. Young players like Lauren Cheney and Tobin Heath have made their way into International play and proven their worth. However, not having a league while they wait for events like the World Cup and the Olympics, is detrimental to them developing into the World’s best. If the United States wants to continue being a powerhouse on the international level, the WPS must remain.

If we let the WPS go, we prove we’re a country that does not value men’s and women’s sports equally. I don’t mean to put anyone down, but history shows that the U.S. Women have had more success and have done better than the U.S. Men. The MLS running smoothly shows that there is American interest in soccer. What would the loss of our Women’s soccer league say about American society at large?

That no matter the skill level, men’s sports will always have more value than women’s sports. Perhaps this isn’t the case, but there are many people who will see it that way.

But that in mind, here comes the sappy, sentimental bit.

If anyone has paid attention to the Twitter pages of players in the league such as Canadian Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, you can see just how much the players love this game. Beyond Twitter, watching the players play during the World Cup was enough to convince anyone how their love for this game knows no bounds.

I’m someone who watched the 1999 U.S. team as a 7-year-old and I know what it’s like to be young and inspired by a team. Part of me will always want to be Mia Hamm, while another part of me is always going to yell “Pearce” instead of “Rampone.” I know how the young girls who watched the 2011 team feel, and they need a league like this in their lives. The WPS is more than a Women’s Soccer League; it’s a place for dreams to be recognized.

These players deserve to play and numerous people have provided ways to remedy WPS problems. Someone needs to step up and realize they can be a hero to so many people by investing.

I mean, not that it counts for anything, but I’m just warning everyone now that if the WPS ultimately does get shut down, the entire staff of The New Paltz Oracle will be subject to my depression and nonstop playing of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album. Be warned.