Some Travel Thoughts
Greetings from the Pacific Northwest. My brother, my mother, and I decided to take a long weekend and get away for a bit. We quickly settled on Portland, Oregon for a destination. We set a date, booked flights, and a hotel, and here we are in Pacific Daylight Savings Time.
There's a number of things that we have quickly come to appreciate about Portland. We're staying in a very walkable part of the city in The Pearl District, and we have had good food, good beer, and even found a bar with a really excellent bourbon selection. We also have been walking many of those calories off, hitting over 20,000 steps yesterday.
Portland is home to the University of Portland Pilots, and the Portland State University Vikings. Neither appear to be a very significant draw for sports fandom.
The city host an NBA team, the Trailblazers, and they have an ice hockey team, the Winterhawks.
The big draw in Portlandia sports, however, really seems to be soccer. The Portland Timbers are an MLS side, and in their game at Providence Park here last night, they drew over 23,000 fans in a 1-0 victory over FC Dallas. The organization running the Timbers, much like Soccer Holdings, LLC that runs Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC, supports several teams, four in fact. In addition to the Timbers, they run the Timbers2 in the USL, Timbers U23s in USL League Two, and the Portland Thorns, the women's side currently sitting in a four way tie for first place in the NWSL.
A Twinge of Disappointment
Meeting up with my mother and brother in the hotel bar before heading out for dinner last night, the Timbers were on TV and I decided I would check on the Thorns schedule and to my pleasant surprise, they play tonight, here in Providence Park. A quick consultation with the sibling and parental units and tickets were obtained.
In the process of getting the tickets, I searched for the Thorns website. A quick google search later, and I found myself at https://www.timbers.com/thornsfc. Here's what the header of the page looks like:
I was disappointed. While the Thorns are very well supported here in Portland - the bar with the excellent bourbon selection referenced above featured a Thorns scarf as decoration more prominently than the Timbers counterpart - the organization, Peregrine Sports LLC, presents the Thorns as secondary to the Timbers, as an appendage to the top level men's team.
A Bit of Pride
Out of that disappointment, though, I felt a bit of pride in my hometown city.
The URL for Racing Louisville FC? https://www.racingloufc.com/ and when you go to the page, you see no branding, no reference, not even a hint of the existence of Louisville City FC. Racing Louisville FC is allowed to stand on it own with pride.
I see much of the same pattern with the University of Louisville, sports. The UofL Women's Tennis team's Twitter handle is "@UofLTennis", while the Twitter handle for the men's team is "@UofLMTennis". We've discussed in these pages before about how the UofL Athletics Department eschews the moniker "Lady Cards", explaining that using "Lady Cards" suggests that the women's teams wouldn't fully be representing the University as Cardinals as they would "merely be the Lady Cards".
I love that UofL, along with Racing Louisville/Louisville City gets this right.
Representation matters. Presentation matters. Many people say that women's sports gets lesser presentation because they draw less. Meanwhile, this year's Women's College World Series in Softball drew an average viewership of over 1.2 million viewers, while it's counterpart the College World Series for Baseball drew an average of just over 750,000 viewers.
Women's sports can succeed, on its own, without being an appendage to men's team. All that is needed is the chance to shine.
Thank you to UofL, and to Soccer Holdings LLC, for being a part of the solution. As fans, we should occasionally take a moment and appreciate the efforts to which these organizations go to be part of creating gender equity.
Tonight, I'll be wearing a red shirt as the Thorns host the Orlando Pride to break that tie at the the top of the NWSL standings, but in my mind, I'll be thinking of the Lavender, Deep Violet, and Mint Green of Racing Louisville. And of course, I can't wait to get back to Floyd street and wear the red and black of the Cardinals.