I have to be honest with you. I get a little tired of hearing people all around the world say that the United States doesn’t pay any attention to soccer. Just because we don’t riot, destroy stadiums, brawl, cancel work, assault and even murder disgraced players and coaches doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention. It just means we are paying attention differently…and isn’t being different what America was founded on to begin with?
Two things every American loves…a winner and a good story. This year’s women’s world cup team gave us both. The only thing missing here was the true Hollywood ending…instead; we got a couple of missed penalty kicks and a celebration from Okinawa to Tokyo. But let me ask you this…how often in life do we really get a Hollywood ending anyway? After all, just because the destination isn’t everything you wanted it to be doesn’t mean the ride wasn’t fun.
And man was this one fun. From iconic veterans to spunky newcomers, the U.S. women had it all. It’s hard not have hope when you….well; have a goalie named Hope. These women played their tails off and their hearts out. They could have let missed goals, blown chances and a few bad calls derail them. They didn’t. They could have let a defeat in group play get them down. They didn’t. They could have given up the ghost in extra time against Brazil and let the land of one name players once again take home the glory. They didn’t. They could have let France win so that we could yet again hear the overblown rhetoric about how superior Europe is. They didn’t.
In fact, about the only thing missing when the smoke cleared was the Cup itself. All across the country yesterday people gathered to wave flags, paint their faces, blow air horns and chant U.S.A. They came together to pull for a group of women who readily admit they have to be role models for the young girls watching them (a novel concept these days). A group of women who won….and lost, with grace. The really strange part is, I think the grace was contagious…I even heard a few fans departing a sports bar commenting on how important this win must be to Japan given the tumultuous year they have had as a country. Wow. In my opinion we could use a little more sportsmanship of this magnitude on a much more regular basis.
In the end, I too got caught up in watching the story unfold over the last few weeks and after a day to reflect on the final reel, I’ll leave you with two comments.
First-the next time someone tells you that Americans are lousy soccer fans, blow your air horn in their ear and show them your Uncle Sam tattoo. They won’t like you anyway, so what have you got to lose.
And second-boys and men out there….the next time someone tells you that you play like a girl… take it as a compliment and say thank you.