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We Tried It: Training Like A Professional Women's Soccer Player

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Hey, Gov. Murphy: Fix your sweatshop of a women's soccer team | Politi

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Phil Murphy's soccer team is in the news this week, and for all the wrong reasons.
Phil Murphy's soccer team is in the news this week, and for all the wrong reasons.  (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media)

By Steve Politi

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spoliti@njadvancemedia.com,

Columnist, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

UPDATE: Murphy has issued a statement  calling the treatment of Sky Blue's players "simply not acceptable" while promising accountability. 

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, this is something all New Jersey residents can agree upon: If Gov. Phil Murphy runs the state's government the way he runs his women's professional soccer team, we're all in deep trouble.

And, to be clear, the word "professional" is a stretch here, because little about Sky Blue -- the team that plays its home games on the Rutgers campus -- sounds worthy of that classification.

Players lived in a house with "plastic bags for windows," routinely had travel issues that made Planes, Trains and Automobiles feel like a documentary and faced the less-than-professional choice of doing their own laundry or wearing dirty uniforms to practice. 

You want more? They reported problems getting their medical bills paid on time, and that their baggage fees were not reimbursed on road trips, and that they are forced to use porta potties at their practice "facility."

Carli Lloyd -- Carli Freakin' Lloyd! -- takes her post-practice ice baths in a 50-gallon trash can ... and that's only if ice is available. Murphy's team is such a train wreck that sometimes it doesn't even have enough ice. 

These were just some of the revelations in a pair of eye-popping reports this week from soccer publications, one from the website The Equalizer and another from Once a Metro. The accusations led to the near-unanimous conclusion that the situation won't improve until one thing happens. 

"I really don't see how you could turn that club around at this point, unless it was bought out by somebody else," Caroline Stanley, a former goaltender on the team, told The Equalizer.

Again: That owner she wants out is Phil Murphy.

Attempts to reach him this week to address these concerns, both through the governor's office and the team, were unsuccessful. If he's smart, he will do what good sports owners do and take responsibility for the problems and pledge to fix them immediately. 

Murphy might not be involved in the day-to-day operations of a soccer team while running the state -- another owner, Steven Temares, is directly in charge -- but he is listed as the majority owner on the team website. He is the one signing the checks. He is responsible for this embarrassment. 

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Mary Smoot, Sky Blue's CFO, said in a phone interview on Tuesday night that Temares and other team officials had met with team representatives on Monday to address the issues. She said the housing situation has improved from last season, but a league cap on spending and high New Jersey prices make that a challenge.

"We don't want to talk about the past. What we want to do is, going forward, address the players concerns and make them better," Smoot said. "We just want to make them right."

It seems clear, however, that they are still not right. One former player, in an interview with NJ Advance Media on Wednesday afternoon, said that many of the complaints being levied against the team now are no different that the issues brought to management's attention during the team's first season in 2013.

The team even recently replaced those practice porta potties, the player said, but the players were stunned to find an old trailer home that sort of looks like where Cousin Eddie lived in National Lampoon's Vacation

IMG_6014.JPG>Here are the "new" bathrooms at Sky Blue's practice facility.Steve Politi | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

These are not new issues. They just came to light this month when Sam Kerr, who was traded from the team this winter, scored a hat trick in her first game back in New Jersey and then explained that she was nearly in tears for much of the night. 

She told reporters that she wanted to take "every single one of (the Sky Blue players) with me" because "the girls deserve better." Sky Blue, winless in 15 games, has scored just 11 goals this season. 

That interview led to an outcry from the team's loyal fans and, this week, that pair of well-reported stories from the soccer media. The interviews were damning. 

"When there are no showers in your stadium locker room, you don't feel like a professional," said Stanley. "When you don't have an equipment manager and you show up to practice in your training gear -- you don't have a locker room -- you throw your crap on the side of the field like it's club practice and then leave in your nasty clothes and wash it yourself, you don't feel like a professional. You cannot perform under those conditions."

I believe that Murphy, an avid soccer fan, got involved in Sky Blue for all the right reasons. He certainly didn't do it to make money, as his tax returns show. He reported a $523,000 loss in 2016 and about $5 million since the team started playing in 2009. 

Still: These players deserve better. They understand the financial realities of women's sports and are not looking for four-star hotels or chartered jets. They just want some semblance of professionalism from their professional team, enough to let them compete at a high level. 

"Phil Murphy will claim that he's the governor and that's what he's focused on, but he's the owner," the former player told NJ Advance Media. "This is simple stuff. Be more involved or sell it to somebody that wants to do something with it."

The players are smart enough to direct their anger at the very top. Murphy might be remembered as a good governor someday, but right now, he's a bad sports team owner. He better start working to change that.

Steve Politi may be reached at spoliti@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevePoliti. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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Source : https://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2018/07/hey_gov_murphy_fix_your_disgraceful_sweatshop_of_a.html