World Cup

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Like so many others, I loved watching the Women’s World Cup and was deeply moved by the United States team’s decisive triumph on Sunday night.  The sea of red, white, and blue and the national anthem all felt incredibly fitting at the end of the Fourth of July weekend, but more than anything, I was wowed by the athletes.

Yes, by their ferocious play.  By how they didn’t give up.  By their clear orientation towards teamwork.  I love what I read (and I can’t remember where) about someone asking one of the women what their “secret” was, and her response that “My secret is I’ve trained my butt off for 12 years.”  Amen to that.

I loved how after the win the team went and stood in front of the section of the stadium that clearly held their families.  They had tears and delight in their eyes as they danced, wept, and pointed up to their loved ones who’d been watching.  Abby Wambach kissed her wife, who leaned over so perilously I worried for a sec she’d fall.  It was abundantly clear to me that the US women wanted to celebrate first with each other (and I love all the photographs of them hugging, in huge groups) and immediately after, with their families.  I loved the way there was no drama about the way the two elder statesmen of the team were the ones to hoist the cup.  The person who won the game with her three goals (Carli Lloyd) and the big names on the team (Alex Morgan, Hope Solo) walked to the podium without complaint or hesitation, leaving the honors to the women who’d been on the team the longest, Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone.

I loved the clear dedication and loyalty I saw between each and every member of the team.  I mentioned to Grace that I loved the way the team looked communicating with their families.  She agreed, but added, “Well, I also liked how whenever someone from USA or Japan tripped each other or collided that patted each other on the back.  They just seemed really respectful.”  And how.

I’m hardly the only mother in America who’s jubilant at these newly-famous role models for our children.  My friend Kennedy wrote this on Facebook, and it brought tears to my eyes.

And now I coach my daughter, who is one of 2 million girls in the US who play soccer. Hopefully her heroes will be Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, who talk all about team, and sacrifice, and hard work. They are elite, awesome athletes who don’t get red cards, don’t whine, don’t dive, don’t scream or curse on TV. They play their asses off, they pick each other up, and they never stop fighting.

They are truly wonderful representatives for our country.

And now, today, they are champions of the world.

The only thing that marred the final match for me was the Robert Palmer girls who came out at the end, holding trays of medals.  After such a fantastic, triumphant celebration of what womens’ bodies can do, it felt jarring and incongruous to observe this focus on what womens’ bodies look like.  I watched the women in tight, short black dresses and high heels mince onto the field with a fair amount of shock.  I know I’m not the only person who note this.

Let’s change that, FIFA.  Grace may not be playing soccer anymore, but I’m thrilled at what these women represent for both she and Whit and for all of our children (and adults!): the value of teamwork, respect, hard work, and never giving up.  #likeagirl, indeed.


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6 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    We too loved watching the World Cup. Caroline has become completely obsessed with the team. She watched and reads anything she can get her hands on about the games and the women. Such amazing role models! And I couldn’t agree more about the Robert Palmer girls. What the heck!? And then there is what is coming out about the discrepancy in pay for the women and men. My sister in law sent me this stat last night: avg salary of $14K for a female soccer player v $305K for male soccer player. Now that is truly shocking.

  2. Isabelle
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Yes! We also loved watching the cup. My son was insistent that we watch from early on and it was eye-opening for me to realize that he in no way saw women’s sports as lesser than. I am in total agreement about the Robert Palmer women and the salary discrepancy that Stacey notes–both show there is still a long way to go.

  3. Alessandra
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    So well written. And I agree regarding the pay discrepancy – some men’s teams got four times the amount for not quite making it to the final round that our women got for winning the whole thing. I’ve been thinking on how we fix that – one obvious way might be to support women’s professional sports as season ticket subscribers. I was heartened to read that this game was the most watched soccer match ever – and by the numbers of men in the stands. Perhaps all signs that the tide is shifting. As to the Robert Palmer girls, agree and love the suggestion of having adoring junior athletes from the host city do the presenting! Thanks for writing about this.

  4. Posted July 8, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes, these women were role models for our girls AND our boys. My daughter is too young to care, but my boys watched many of the games—including the finals—and I feel like they learned so much about teamwork, sportsmanship, and commitment. May they remember what they witnessed in these athletes each time they take the field.

  5. sherae
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this! I was thrilled to watch the US Women’s Soccer team capture the World Cup Championship title, but more importantly, to see them and the other national women’s teams elevate the stature of women’s sports. It’s only when women’s sports and women in sports get recognized for excelling at the elite level with integrity, hard work and persistence that more fans, both men and women, boys and girls, will start watching them play, be inspired by them and young girls will have more female role models to look up to in sports. Thought I’d also share a post I made last week about why women’s sports is worth watching: http://blog.getfantalk.com/post/122537800737/worth-watching

  6. Posted July 14, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I flagged this in my inbox last week because I didn’t want to forget to pop over and read it.

    We drove up to Winnipeg for the first US game against Australia (and saw the Nigeria/Sweden game just beforehand), and throughout both games, my eyes kept filling with tears. All those fans there to support women soccer players! My daughters and their teammates cheering like crazy! Tears! I just kept thinking about the fact that less than thirty years ago, this wouldn’t have happened, there was no Women’s World Cup. There is so much that is still unjust (the pay, the Robert Palmer girls), but there is so much to celebrate.

    We having been watching interviews with all the players, and they give me goosebumps. Such amazing role models, so much integrity and hard work. Thanks for this post, as always!!