Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Hums, Mary A.


Women's United Soccer Association; Women soccer players--History; Soccer for women; Professional sports


The purpose of this study is to examine the creation and demise of the WUSA, and to establish the league as a social movement organization (SMO) within the context of the rich body of social movement literature. In explaining the rise and fall of the WUSA, three research questions were answered: (a) How was the WUSA founded? (b) Why was the WUSA founded? and (c) Why did the WUSA fail? The design used to answer these research questions is a case study design from a historical analysis perspective. Eight in-depth interviews were conducted with WUSA leaders. The interviews were then transcribed and coded to establish themes answering each research question while also establishing the WUSA as a SMO. Three themes emerged to answer the question "How was the WUSA founded?" They were: (a) the 1999 Women's World Cup Championship Team, (b) John Hendricks, and, (c) the "collision" of these two entities. Three themes also emerged in answering the question "Why was the WUSA founded?" and were: (a) players provided great roles models, (b) the desire for a premier women's soccer league, and (c) the passion surrounding the players. Five themes emerged to answer the question "Why did the WUSA fail?": (a) inadequate business plan, (b) lack of support for women's sports, (c) lack of trust in leadership, (d) a mixed league identification/branding message, and (e) inevitable sense of failure. This study adds to social movement literature as well as provides insight for those starting new professional sport leagues.