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Allison’s Friday Favorites: FCKC gets its Pride on

(photo by Amy Kontras and courtesy of FC Kansas City)

(photo by Amy Kontras and courtesy of FC Kansas City)

Happy Friday, everyone! If you’re like me, it’s been a very long, difficult week for some reason. There hasn’t been as much grumbling within the world of WoSo this week, though, which is rarely a bad thing. However, I’m back with my Friday Favorites to help shine a light on what I think are some positive stories to come out of WoSo this week.

FCKC gets its Pride on

If you’ve ever been to a NWSL or USWNT match, you’ve likely seen at least one Pride rainbow flag on display. WoSo in general is known for being LGBT-friendly, but the NWSL itself has been praised for its inclusivity for years. Several teams sell rainbow-flag themed merchandise, and the majority of the league’s 10 teams held Pride nights last season.

FC Kansas City was one of the few teams to never have held a Pride night, but that all changes this weekend with their inaugural Out at Swope event. The event is being held in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a civil rights organization that advocates and fights for LGBT equality. Fans can purchase tickets to Out at Swope that include an HRC membership and entrance into a pregame tailgate party. A 50/50 raffle benefiting Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, a nonprofit organization that strives to end violence against LGBT youth and adults in Kansas and Missouri, will also take place during the game. The motto for the night is “Be Blue. Be True. Be You.”

“I think the whole idea is to celebrate inclusion and to make people aware that the fact that, not just within the league and on our team, but in terms of our fanbase and everyone who supports us as players off the field, that everyone is welcome,” FCKC defender Yael Averbuch said.

“We want to celebrate diversity and love and, like I said, inclusion, and I think it’s an important night to remind ourselves of those things and how important they are, not only in soccer, but in life in general.”

FC Kansas City has come under fire in past seasons for not holding any kind of Pride night. They did, however, tweet in favor of marriage equality after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter back in 2015. Whether the team’s new ownership is a factor, the team has simply listened to fans, or they’re simply catching up with the times, it’s good to see FCKC decide to host their own Pride night.

While openly LGBT players miss out on professional contracts and fans are subjected to homophobic chants in other leagues, the NWSL has, for the most part, been very welcoming to its LGBT fans, and having more teams embrace the inclusivity the league is known for.

Averbuch, who is also one of the NWSL players involved with Playing for Pride this season, has tweeted in support of the event.

“In general, I have a lot of very close friends in the LGBT community and I want to show my support for those people, my friends and teammates and other players in the league, and I think it’s so important that we all stand by one another. So it’s an important cause for me to support,” she said.

“It’s important as friends and teammates and allies that we all stand up for one another.”

Dash host Pups to the Pitch

(image courtesy Houston Dash)

(image courtesy Houston Dash)

After my last Friday Favorites column, one of the comments on the article asked what the obsession with dogs was. Honestly, I have no explanation for that. Personally, I can’t remember a time when my family or I didn’t have at least one dog, and I’m currently “Mom” to two boys I adopted from shelters. Most of my friends and WoSo colleagues are dog owners, too, and most of those who aren’t still self-described dog people.

There also seems to be a large percentage of players in the NWSL who are also dog lovers (just look at the social media accounts of Kristen Edmonds, Sam Kerr, or Rose Lavelle), which possibly fuels some of the overlap between WoSo fans and dog lovers.

Thanks to the Houston Dash, though, there’s now even more overlap. Next Saturday, May 13, the Dash are holding Pups to the Pitch, where fans can purchase a specific ticket package that allows them to bring their favorite four-legged friend with them to BBVA Compass Stadium to watch the Dash take on, of all teams, Sky Blue FC. The special ticket package includes a ticket for one adult and one pup to a “dog-friendly” section of the stadium, not to mention a Dash bandanna so Spot can rep his favorite team.

Worried about how pups will fare in the Houston afternoon heat? No need to worry. There will be several areas set up for dogs and their owners to rest and cool down, including doggy break areas throughout the game.

While allowing sports fans to bring their dogs with them to catch a game isn’t a new concept–other leagues have been doing this for years–it’s still a great idea. I know several people who are more likely to eat at a specific restaurant or visit a bar if there’s a dog-friendly area available there, and sporting events shouldn’t be any different. When it comes to (wo)man’s best friend and WoSo, why should you have to choose?

Oh, and in the meantime, here’s a little quiz to see if you can match the Dash players to their Dash pups. (For the sake of full disclosure, I scored a 4/12 on it.)

Breakers, Dunkin team up

Natasha Dowie warms up in front of a Dunkin Donuts ad at Jordan Field. (photo copyright Clark Linehan Photo for The Equalizer)

Natasha Dowie warms up in front of a Dunkin Donuts ad at Jordan Field. (photo copyright Linehan Photography for The Equalizer)

By all appearances, the Boston Breakers have a new sponsor, and a big one at that: Dunkin Donuts.

If this sponsorship deal were a Facebook relationship status though, it would be “It’s complicated.” Neither the team nor the company have announced the sponsorship, and it’s uncertain if there are plans to do so in the future. However, the Dunkin Donuts logo was first spotted in connection to the Breakers at their season opener in Kansas City, when fans noticed it on the team’s warmups. Tiffany Weimer later mentioned a new sponsorship deal between the Breakers and the Canton, Mass. based company in a blog written for Empire of Soccer. Fast forward a few days to the Breakers home opener, and the Dunkin Donuts logo graced the boards surrounding Jordan Field.

Whether the deal between the Breakers and Dunkin is not yet official or whether the two are simply keeping their new relationship a secret (It’s new, okay?), a sponsorship with a major corporation like Dunkin Donuts is huge, for the team and the league as a whole.

Until Seattle landed Microsoft and FCKC landed Domino’s pizza as their jersey sponsors ahead of the 2016 season, few teams had big names sponsoring them. The interest in the league being shown by these multi-million dollar corporations is extremely promising, especially as the league itself continues making history by surpassing past leagues in almost every regard. The money coming to the teams and league via these corporate sponsorships can be used to improve all aspects of the women’s professional game here in the U.S.

The apparent Dunkin Donuts sponsorship also speaks volumes about Boston. For a team that has consistently been at or near the bottom of the table for the past several seasons to pull in a sponsor of that caliber, even one that has local connections, is an impressive feat. Good things seem to be really be happening in Boston, on and off the field.

Hopefully the Breakers and Dunkin will make their relationship official soon.

Allison’s Friday Favorites will feature positive, encouraging or otherwise uplifting stories from around the world of WoSo every week. All of the columns can be found here


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