Fans who hold the departed Washington Freedom dear might like to know the squad is still doing wonderfully on the field. Last weekend, the team, now usually called magicJack and playing its home games in Florida, defeated the Atlanta Beat, 2-0, to stay unbeaten after three games.
How’re things going for the franchise off the pitch? Well…
I spoke in January with Dan Borislow just after the Florida businessman bought the Washington Freedom from its founders, the Hendricks family. The Hendrickses established the team after the very successful 1999 Women’s World Cup and had a good run letting local kids watch international stars like Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach before interest in pro women’s soccer waned here and pretty much everywhere.
Borislow told me he didn’t really want to buy the team, and only did so because he thought the entire Women’s Professional Soccer, the largest women’s league around, would collapse if he didn’t pony up. And he wanted his young daughter to have female pro soccer players available as role models.
But most things about the Freedom’s then-upcoming season, Borislow said, were “up in the air.”
It’s now four months later, and we’re well into the 2011 WPS season. And, boy, do Borislow’s words still ring true.
Borislow’s team is listed alternately as “magicJack” and “Magic Talk’s WF” on the pages of other WPS franchise’s on the league’s web site. Both names are from digital phone products sold by the entrepreneurial Borislow in his non-soccer business.
But there is no team page under either “magicJack” and “Magic Talk’s WF” on the league site. The link for the old Washington Freedom home page redirects to a site that says not much more than “A revamped website is coming soon! magicJack is working hard to give you an updated website for the team’s 2011 season.”
When I tried to click the tickets link for magicJack games on the WPS’s official schedule page, all I got was a message from TicketMaster that no tickets for any such events are available.
Alas, I’m not the only puzzled by the situation.
The Cherokee Tribune, a publication in Canton, Ga., wrote a story last week about the bizarre state of the ex-Freedom:
[L]ittle is known about the team. There is no public relations or front-office staff to speak of outside of Borislow, general manager Brianna Scurry and coach Mike Lyons.
[WPS rival Atlanta] Beat coach James Galanis said he was unable to review game footage of magicJack since footage of their home games are not recorded.
“Believe it or not, nobody’s seen anything,” Galanis said. “There is mystery. We all have access to a website that allows us to watch our opponents play, and our opponents get a chance to watch us play. For some strange reason, none of their games are on the website. I haven’t found out why yet, but it kind of makes it a little bit weird, I suppose.”
In its recap of magicJack’s 2-1 victory over Philadelphia last week, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper’s reporter was denied access to the team for postgame interviews.
Asked by the paper about his refusal to allow player interviews, Borislow said, “I’m personally not used to reporters, in some instances, lying. I’m kind of perplexed why reporters are received with open arms when it’s to the detriment of the league.”
One more time: This is from the premier pro women’s soccer league in the land.
Are women’s pro sports in trouble or what? And if they weren’t, well, was anybody paying attention when the Mystics uniforms underwent THEIR redesign, complete with a sponsor’s name dominating the jersey, last month?