Talking Points: New league kicks off

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What's the buzz from the world of sports? Here are some items that will have people talking:

1

The National Women's Soccer League kicks off today, and Portland Thorns FC is playing the first game, visiting FC Kansas City.

For Portland, which will play its first home game on April 21, the season is already a staggering success. Thorns FC report they have sold more than 7,000 season tickets. They figure to average around 10,000 per game.

Portland has some built-in advantages: Merritt Paulson is the only MLS owner to also own a NWSL team, so much of the infrastructure already existed; the success of the University of Portland program has brought attention to women's soccer here for more than a decade; Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair provide star power.

In fact, it's safe to say Morgan and Sinclair are more recognized athletes both locally and around the world than any player for the Portland Timbers.

Still, it's going to take more than current stars and popularity in Portland for women's pro soccer to stick. It's going to take disciplined owners who keep costs down — probably for decades while the league builds the backbone of every successful sports franchise: tradition.

2

Two of the greatest coaches the state of Washington has known — Marv Harshman and Frosty Westering — died on Friday.

Harshman won 687 games coaching basketball at Pacific Lutheran, Washington State and then Washington. A member of the basketball hall of fame, Harshman likely would have had even more wins if not for John Wooden, whose UCLA teams dominated the Pac-8 from 1961-75.

Westering won 261 football games — and four national titles — at PLU. His legacy is that of a leader who emphasized the process and taught many that strong relationships produce lasting rewards.

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