Is it possible that Nike thinks the only viewers of Women’s Soccer are in fact women? Their production of replica jerseys seems to hint at that idea.
In recent years, the audience and attendance for women sports has vastly grown and women’s soccer has a lot to do with that after players like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and Abby Wambach have revolutionized sport as we know it. Men and women everywhere purchase tickets, jerseys, and much more memorabilia at sporting events- this has even slowly trickled into the NWSL.
Despite an uphill battle of trying to be seen for what they’re worth and asking for equality on their end of the sport, Nike seems to believe that only women could possibly like women’s professional soccer. It’s almost as if, from a fan’s point of view, Nike endorses sexism.
If you’re a man who is a fan of any of the NWSL teams that Nike sponsors then you currently can’t find a 2016 new kit jersey made for you in their shops. Why is this?
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Because as of right now, Nike hasn’t released any! While some of the shops don’t have the new kits listed for purchase yet, if you head over to the Houston Dash’s online store and click on the section where they sell their jerseys, you will only see women’s cut jerseys for the 2016 style. It hasn’t been talked about much yet, but I’m sure when more and more men who attend the matches start to realize that Nike decided to not make a jersey for their enjoyment as well, it’ll be posted about all over social media.
This isn’t the first time that Nike has done this during the current year, either. Last year, Nike released men’s cut two-star jerseys for the men who wanted to support the USWNT during the Women’s World Cup, but the same hasn’t been seen for the new three-star jerseys. After winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the USWNT triumphantly added their third star above the U.S. soccer crest on their jerseys, however, Nike only produced women’s cut of the three-star jerseys for fan purchase at the end of March despite having advertised immediately following the win the three-star jerseys in all styles from youth to adult (men and women).
Nike proudly advertised to men and women that they could get their replica three-star jerseys at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but less than a month later men who purchased the jersey received emails from the U.S. Soccer Store stating that “the Men’s Nike USA 2015/2016 3-star Home Jersey has been discontinued,” per Vice Sports.
Not only are the USWNT three-star jerseys not made in men’s sizes, but if you’re a larger built woman, don’t expect to fit into a jersey since there wasn’t one released over an extra-large. Even tennis star Serena Williams who proudly supports the USWNT can’t find a three star jersey to wear.
At the Miami open, Williams was proudly sporting a U.S. soccer home jersey, but something was clearly missing and fans took to social media to react on it: “Why doesn’t Serena Williams have a jersey with the three stars above the crest?” The answer, though not fair, is rather simple: there just wasn’t one produced for anyone other than adult women. Not even youth can sport their favorite women’s team player with a jersey made for them. As it turns out, Williams was wearing a USMNT jersey that was given to her by a men’s player.
Nike also seems to believe that if you’re a woman who is going to buy one of these jerseys, then surely the only way you can wear one is if in fact the V-neck exposes as much of your cleavage as possible. If you are looking at a picture of any of the USWNT members modeling their jersey, don’t think that you’re going to get an “authentic” one- those aren’t for sale. Instead, you will get a deep V-neck cut jersey that doesn’t come close to matching what the players are wearing.
Nike, for some reason, didn’t release any jerseys that were actually of the same design as the players on the field for the first time since producing U.S. soccer jerseys in 1995 – even the crest is smaller than the actual “authentic” jerseys that the team is wearing. In fact, you won’t find “1 Team, 1 Nation” on the sleeve or the FIFA Champions Patch that only the reigning WWC champion gets to have on their jersey. The only good thing about the USWNT jerseys is that the V-neck isn’t cut as low as the MLS and NWSL V-necks are cut. Hey, at least that’s a positive, right?
If you’re a USWNT fan, the answer may be as simple as ordering a USMNT jersey and having an embroiderer add three stars above the crest for you, but that’s not the point. The point here is that Nike is choosing to endorse the idea that only women could possibly watch women’s sports. Putting aside all of the things they left out or altered from the USWNT authentic jerseys, why else would they not release a men’s cut replica of the jersey?
If you’re a male fan of the NWSL, don’t expect to see your size in the new kits for quite some time, either. There’s a sexism that surrounds the women’s side of the sport and unfortunately Nike isn’t doing anything to help the issue.