The NWSL is outperforming your favorite sports league in America, it's time you tune in
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
The National Women’s Soccer League's 2020 Challenge Cup is well underway as the quarterfinals are upon us. As the first professional sports league in the United States to return to play, it has been the most successful in terms of keeping players and staff safe, and accommodating its athletes.
The NWSL, founded on November 21st, 2012, is young and with a new commissioner, has accomplished much more than every other league in the U.S., despite the pandemic. The league has accommodated its players' injuries, provided appetizing meals, accommodated families, adhered to CDC guidelines, the list goes on. This should be standard, but recent events revealed in the WNBA and MLS with unappetizing meals and poor living spaces show that these basic accommodations are not always uniform across other leagues in the U.S.
The league has also maintained social distancing and kept interactions with other teams and players to a minimum. Lindsey Horan of the Portland Thorns and USWNT told Graham Hays of ESPN that "Rose Lavelle is one of my closest friends, so yeah, it's really weird to see her across the hotel lobby but only be able to briefly say hi from six feet away. She's in her bubble with Washington, I'm in mine with Portland. Bubbles inside bubbles", said Horan, further corroborating the players adherence to guidelines set by the league. Additionally, Horan commented on the commitment of the teams and league to safety, "All of the communication helped -- I can't even count all the pages of documents we received outlining protocols and all of that. And it helped seeing how Portland put protocols in place to keep us safe while we were there". Horan explained. Like other players, Horan was hesitant to play for fear of safety, and she also worried that the tournament may not transpire. However, Horan and countless other players have commented on the great strides taken by the league telling Hays, "There was some talk about shouldn't we let someone like MLS or MLB or the NBA go first and then follow their path? But the NWSL did a really good job. You see that now. Everything has been really positive so far in this tournament and we're getting to put on a show for fans", Horan expressed.
Michele Vasconcelos, forward for the Chicago Red Stars is one of a few mothers in the NWSL and told SB Nation's TJ Zaremba what it was like for families in the bubble, “The league and the commissioner have gone to extreme lengths to make sure all the moms and their children are comfortable,” she said. “It’s been a huge blessing". According to Vasconcelos, "The league is giving moms a stipend to purchase activities for their kids in the village, which will help, since they can’t leave". Per Zaremba of SB Nation, the NWSL is also allowing the addition of a caregiver, "The league is letting moms bring their kids, and one caregiver, as well. In Michele’s case, that caregiver will be her husband, Pedro. The WNBA has announced a similar policy for its mothers. Both Horan and Vasconcelos agree that the league has truly taken every precaution in order to keep families, players, and staff safe, happy, and healthy. It is safe to say that the NWSL has set the standard for what the return to play should look like and has been able to continue to show us the incredible talents of its players.
NWSL Challenge Cup games can be streamed on CBS All Access, it costs $6, but fans are able to cancel their subscription at any time. The final will be available on CBS on July 26th at 12:30pm EST and will hopefully include our very own Washington Spirit. The Spirit will return to action against Sky Blue FC of New Jersey on July 18th at 12:30pm EST on CBS All Access.