NPF Gets No Respect

Women's Pro Softball Longs for Attention It Deserves

By TSC Contributor JESSICA URBAN

LOMBARD  Certainly the NPF is home to some of the finest female athletes, and the games are as exciting as they get. But after a decade, the league still struggles for the respect it rightly deserves.

Unfortunately, in our popular sports culture, the amount of attention a sport SHOULD get has almost nothing to do with the attention it DOES get.  This is especially true for women’s sports: people are not going to tune in simply because the athletes are good or the games are shorter or there are some exciting plays. People SHOULD pay attention, but those things alone won’t do the trick. In reality, women’s sports/athletes have to HUSTLE! You can’t wait for the population at large to find you—YOU have to get your own name out there. 

I am not sure what type of PR apparatus the NPF has, but it should be knocking down the door of every sports outlet—local and national—to get its story out there. I have never even seen a Bandits highlight on local Chicago news, and they are the league champs! I just watched a story on the local news about a dog wearing a Halloween costume! If people will tune in for that tripe, certainly they would like to see a few highlights of their home team!

I’m thinking about where the average sports fan goes to get their fill of sports news, and I’d have to say SportsCenter is at the top of the list. Except during the NCAA tournament (and when the US was in the Olympics), I NEVER see or hear anything about women’s softball. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the NPF mentioned, and I watch a fair amount of ESPN.

Some might be saying “Well, of course they don’t talk about it, it’s not popular enough.”  I see it more as a “wag the dog”/chicken/egg  type thing—if ESPN talks about it, then it becomes popular. Maybe not as much as in previous years, but ESPN really does control the sports conversation, not the other way around.

SO, the NPF and their PR team have to HUSTLE—they should be knocking down the door with highlights. I see SO MANY high school sports highlights; I would think ESPN would show pro fastpitch as well. Is the NPF doing enough to get their name out there??? 

One thing the NPF needs to do is develop its stars in the media so they are household names! Think about soccer—it is not any more exciting than softball, and its athletes are just as talented, but the US Soccer team has done a much better job of marketing itself. The players get publicity, and yes sometimes it’s negative (looking at you Hope Solo…), but in the women’s game ANY publicity is GOOD!!! 

The NPF doesn’t have any household names, and that is a HUGE problem. Of course there are stars that all softball fans/players know, but I think Jennie Finch is probably the only player an “average” fan could name.  HUGE PROBLEM. 

Overall, my main point is this: pro softball of course deserves more respect and a larger fan base. I think we can all agree on that. However, fans aren’t going to flock to the game because they “should”—NPF needs to do a LOT more to get themselves out there!! YOU HAVE TO HUSTLE! Read more.

 

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