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The Curse of Pride

The Orlando Pride figured out a way to stay involved after having to drop out of the NWSL Challenge Cup. They thought it was fun. Others called it something else.

Orlando Pride by Jamie Smed is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Curse of Pride

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The NWSL Challenge Cup has come and sadly is almost gone. Over the last month there have been an array of glittering goals and spectacular saves and as we approach Sunday’s Championship Match between the Chicago Red Stars and Houston Dash the highlight reel will only grow by a few more plays.

It’s understandable if you haven’t seen a lot of the highlights considering that with the exception of the opening match of the tournament, which btw was the highest rated NWSL match ever at just over half a million views, and the upcoming final one, they’ve all been hidden behind the paywall of the CBS All Access streaming platforms. Not to mention that I can’t recall seeing any of the highlights show up on ESPN or other nationally broadcast sports networks. But then again almost all of these outlets also cited the MLS is Back Tournament as the first professional team sports league to re-start in the midst of this worldwide pandemic that we are currently trying to just tread water in.

The NWSL started play on June 28th. The MLS started play on July 8th.

Now, I’m no whiz at math. I did get a musical theater degree after all. But I’m pretty good at reading and looking at dates and being able to realize that there was a women’s team sport in our country that started 10 whole days before a men’s team sport. I’m probably just talking crazy talk and thinking that it could possibly have something to do with gender. But I’m just a woman. What do I know?

I’m getting riled up and getting distracted from what I initially came here to discuss though, which has actually been a fun topic to follow during this tournament. And has been available for viewing for free to monitor by fans new and old to the league as the matches have been playing out.

The Height of Hubris

Let me catch you up real quick in case you aren’t aware of the details of what I’m about describe became a reality. Much like the MLS, NHL, and NBA are doing the NWSL decided to host their return to play tournament in a bubble city. Shortly before players and staff were to report to Salt Lake City for training and quarantine a few Orlando Pride players decided to go out to a bar in Orlando and got themselves and several staff members infected with COVID-19. Luckily none of the cases appeared to be serious but their actions did end up having serious consequences and resulted in the Pride deciding to withdraw from the tournament. I’d hate to say I was surprised by this behavior but it happened in Florida. What else would you expect?

In lieu of being able to play but still wanting to feel included and not have a major case of FOMO the team took to the glorious minefield that is Twitter. They changed the name of their account to the “Challenge Cup Stan Account” and decided to “Stan” a team either by polling fans or making the prediction themselves before every match of who would win that day. Let’s just say it didn’t go according to their plans.

Before we dive into how that went for them lets just refresh what it is to “Stan” something. I won’t dive into a lengthy explanation but I will provide the urban dictionary definitions for a quick explanation to those above a certain generational divide. **Cough cough Joe Danbusky**

(Btw Joe, I am sorry. I know how dangerous the sound of a cough can be right now. I don’t mean to put you in any peril.)

As the tournament progressed the anxiety of having the Pride Stan you that day started to feel more like a curse than a blessing. The overwhelming probability of losing or in a few cases drawing instantly increased if they tweeted out that you were the chosen team for that match. In fact, out of 22 matches so far only 5 of the teams have come out victorious. Not everyone has taken the L though. There were 5 draws left of those other 17 matches. So overall their record looks like 5-12-5 with only one game to go. Not great odds.

While all in the spirit of fun it’s gone as far as players trying to get the account reported and teams openly asking not to be picked and/or then blocking the account when they did. I can only imagine that the Red Stars and Dash will do the same thing before playing their Championship match at 12:30 EST Sunday on actual CBS. So please tune in and prove that great women’s soccer, and women’s sports in general, shouldn’t be hidden away behind a paywall.

And to the Orlando Pride, thank you for entertaining us with some silly fun for the last month. Lord knows we all need more of that right now.

An actor by degree, sports lover by day, and a bartender by night. As a native of suburban Detroit it took moving to NYC for Katie to fully realize her love of all things Michigan and Detroit sports. Feel free to engage her in her love of the coolest city and prettiest state in the country and why she will always root for Ohio State to lose every sporting event ever. No, really I am dead serious about that last statement.

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