It’s More Than Soccer; It’s A Victory For Women

The U.S. women’s soccer team has, deservedly, re-entered the American consciousness with its thrilling victory over Brazil.

I’m not a huge soccer fan, but I am a longtime fan of this team. The reason: They’re women; they aren’t dainty little gymnasts or figure skaters, who typically are the only female athletes that garner national attention in this country.

I’ve written about this over the years, and you can read an example here:

“Because for all the strides that women have made in sports in this country, our attention remains most easily drawn to pixies in sequins and tights.

“Sarah Hughes, Tara Lipinski, Mary Lou Retton – each of them were teen wonders, grasping stardom at an age when ‘she’s so cute’ came more readily to mind than ‘she’s so athletic.’

“This is not meant to denigrate great gymnasts and skaters. They are amazing athletes and compelling personalities.

“This is meant simply to point out that for all our talk about Title IX and women’s sports and female athletes, stereotypes are slow to catch up with reality.

“Along came a team filled with mature, articulate, educated women, some of them married, some of them mothers, all of them remarkable athletes and competitors.

“And by capturing a nation’s attention through their play and their demeanor, they dented long-standing notions of femininity and athleticism.”

Anyway, I’ll let you read the rest of the column. The words still ring true, and the U.S. women’s soccer players remain the only female athletes in a team sport who have really captured the attention of the public. The only ones who have truly transcended their sport. Now there’s a new generation of players, and they have managed to do it again.

Sunday’s game was amazing. And the final hour or so — with the Americans constantly threatening to score, then finally breaking through at the last possible minute, then winning in a shootout — was about as compelling an athletic event as you will ever see. It was, simply, remarkable theater.

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