Yes, I’ve said most of this before. I don’t think I am one to waste words. I am writing on this topic again, because it bears repeating.
Sometime today, it is expected to be announced that a local professional sports team – the 2016 NWSL champions – will be sold and relocated to North Carolina. The Western New York Flash, whose headquarters and practice facilities are located at Sahlen’s Sports Park in Elma, and who play their games in Rochester, will hold a press conference to announce the move.
It may not be troubling that a sports team is being sold – it happens all of the time, right? Of course it does. Sports, as we are constantly reminded, are a business. Buy low. Sell high. Who wouldn’t want to bid on a national champion?
What is troubling, though, is that the number of professional women’s teams in the area is once again diminished. Aside from their Cinderella run through the NWSL, the Flash were home to several US national team members – the most elite players in one of the most dominant countries in their sport. Once again, a women’s team got little attention from local press, and so we wave good-bye as they, like thousands of Buffalonians have done, head to the warmer climates of North Carolina. Queue “Wagon Wheel.”
On Saturday, January 14, the Buffalo Beauts will face the New York Riveters at HarborCenter. The team has been markedly better than they were in their inaugural season, already surpassing their win total for last year’s entirety. As a reward, the women have seen smaller crowds and have had their salaries slashed in order to keep the league afloat.
We run around the country calling ourselves Hockey Heaven, flaunting it on every social media platform there is, but still, we cannot manage to fill the small arena to watch another group of national team players compete with some of the best hockey players in the world. Again, no coverage from local media. This morning, a few of the Beauts jumped onto 106.5 to talk about the upcoming game. Country radio. Not sports radio. Country. Kudos to WYRK for giving these athletes some time and exposure.
Because this is redundant, I will keep it short. It is time for ‘Hockey Heaven’ to literally put its money where its mouth is. EVERY DOLLAR after 500 tickets sold GOES DIRECTLY TO THESE PLAYERS, who are now working for less than 50 PERCENT of the salary they were promised. This team, and this league NEED your support. The importance of teams like the Flash and the Beauts CANNOT be overstated. The value of allowing our daughters to see the opportunities available to them cannot be overstated, nor can the impact of watching another women’s professional team disappear. There is no time but the present. Presently, YOU have the power to ensure these women have a future. You have the power to encourage this league and leagues like it in other sports, and to help them to continue to exist when your daughters finish college.
Puck drop on Saturday is 7:30pm. I will see you there.
The 716 Sports Podcast would like to congratulate the WNY Flash on their accomplishments. It is nothing short of tragic to see this team leave the area. The players have been incredible ambassadors of the world’s sport and WNY is losing more than a team today. Good luck to the players and coaches in the future.