I play for the Boston Rugby Football Club (BRFC) in the ten-team U.S. Super League (our country’s highest level of rugby, but there’s not even a website worth linking for the league). We’re in the midst of preseason conditioning in a high school gym, and I’ll pay for all my own flights to our away matches. We’ve had a different “home field” in Boston for each of the last five seasons, yet we’ve reached the league semifinals two years running.
Meanwhile, in Foxborough, MA, the New England Revolution share Gillette Stadium with the Patriots, but only draw a few thousand fans to most games. Major League Soccer is entering its 17th season. Most teams are not profitable (though the league is making progress). The MLS lags far behind the big four U.S. professional sports in gate receipts, total revenue, and media coverage.
Somewhere between these two poles, lacrosse, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, and other sports struggle for attention. All these leagues are working towards similar goals but need a substantial boost to become viable commercial enterprises. Instead of waging the same fight alone, emerging sports could work together. What if they put on two-sport doubleheaders?
A rugby match or an ultimate Frisbee game would be a unique, zero-cost curtain raiser for the MLS or Major League Lacrosse. That’s right, you wouldn’t even have to pay us to get us into your arena; the publicity alone would be huge for our club. Fans of alternative leagues are attracted to these sports because they are different. A Saturday rugby-soccer twin bill would be more than a gimmick. It would build the MLS/MLL brand as an alternative to the four major sports while providing new and original entertainment.