Casuals, on the other hand, may sometimes expect much more. There can be demands for players’ time, with frustration and anger following when they don’t receive it. Casuals who only come to one or two gamedays and are new to the concept that women’s club soccer is not blessed with the glitz and glamour of a national team appearance can be surprised or confused by the difference between the two. They’re not necessarily there for the product on the field, so their experience is measured by metrics like the overall gameday experience and what souvenirs they got from the game.
This is not to condemn casuals or glorify hardcores. There are simply differences in the way they experience the game, so they both need different approaches when marketing to them. Understanding their differences and how they make up a club’s total attendance can also help determine what percentage of resources need to go where. Are season ticket renewals healthy or growing? Maybe a little more focus can go to casuals. Are walk-up or single-ticket sales looking good? Then perhaps more community outreach.
There are so many moving parts to nurturing NWSL. One or two big solutions are not going to save this league. The constant grind, the push for more fans, more TV viewers, more acceptance – those will yield results. Of course, it behooves the league not to mess up golden opportunities like marketing synergy with tent-pole events like the World Cup and the Olympics. Sometimes the league can sprint instead of taking it slow and steady. But this league, through its very continued existence, can help build better growth conditions for itself, creating a positive cycle that gradually chips away at the resistance to women’s sports.