By Doug Halberstadt
Most of the time, I’m a glass-half-full type of guy. I like to think I’m fairly open-minded and willing to give most things the benefit of the doubt. However, there is one thing I’m fairly confident doesn’t stand a chance in the world of local sports. It’s women’s professional football. I think it’s doomed before it ever gets started.
A group of local people is trying to form a women’s professional football team called the Rockford Riveters. They are attempting to recruit players and hold tryouts in an effort to get ready to field a team next spring in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL).
According to their website, the IWFL has its headquarters in Texas and has more than 30 teams spread out across the entire country. The Rockford Riveters are slated to play an eight-game regular season next spring featuring match-ups against teams from Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.
Several men’s teams have tried to make a go of it here in Rockford at various levels of pro and semi-pro football. In my lifetime, I know there have been multiple versions of the Rockford Rams, and the Rock River Raptors came and went. It is extremely difficult to build and maintain a professional football team. The costs are enormous. They seem to exist for a season or two, but then the economic reality sets in. The amount of money needed to maintain a team far exceeds most individuals’ budgets. As soon as the owners realize this is a money-losing proposition, the plug inevitably gets pulled.
Granted, there is a certain novelty of the thought of women playing football. There is even a league where the ladies play the game wearing only helmets, pads and lingerie. That league has survived because of lucrative television contracts. Without those, they would have been history long ago. The Rockford Riveters won’t have the money coming in from having their games broadcast on national television.
I’m not sure what makes these ladies think they have any chance at success. If they want to get together and play a pick-up game or two in a park someplace, go for it. But, for them to think they can sustain a professional team and the costs that go with it is highly unrealistic.
They’ve definitely got an uphill battle getting this team off the ground and onto the field next spring. Perhaps they haven’t noticed the economy isn’t exactly aligned with incubating any new sports franchises, especially one as risky as this.
Time will either prove me right or wrong on this one, but I’m confident this idea is bust before the Riveters ever put on their make-up and pads.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2011, issue