Hail to the US Women’s Soccer Team!
World Cup champions for the fourth time, and a successful defense of their title won in 2015.
Can you imagine all the young women in this country who viewed the US team and have decided to dedicate themselves to dreaming that someday they may do the same.
More girls may now want to play soccer and become proficient at the sport.
The achievement by the US women is the greatest recruiting effort you can imagine.
Also, try to imagine, how difficult it is to repeat as World Cup champions.
It’s easy for all of us to predict a title, figuring the talented American team would knock off all comers.
Talking the talk and walking the walk are so different.
Consider how every nation has been working hard for the past four years, for one objective.
To beat the United States.
It’s one thing to finish first or second in the Group competition to advance.
But then, when it comes down to one-and-done, starting with the Round of 16, it’s a different story.
America defeated Spain 2-1, France 2-1, England 2-1, and finally the Netherlands, 2-0 to capture the Cup.
Think, for a minute, how a break here and there, might have altered the eventual outcome.
Think, how intense the concentration had to be for the US team to maintain it’s purpose and poise to survive the challenge.
It was truly a monumental effort.
But there are couple of sidebars worth discussing and on some, opinions are sure to vary.
One deals with the amount of money earned by women soccer players.
In the post-match news conference, Megan Rapinoe, spoke up, as she has done before, regarding equal pay for women’s soccer compared to the wages earned by the men athletes.
Rapinoe garnered both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot Awards in the tournament.
The Golden Ball awarded to the best player, and the Golden Boot for having the best goal to playing time average.
Rapinoe scored 6 goals and had 3 assists in 428 minutes of playing time.
Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, determines the prize money for the World Cup.
And there is quite a disparity.
This year, the prize money was $30 million, and it’s already been announced that in 2023, when the field will be increased from 24 to 32 teams, the total will be doubled to $60 million.
But the prize money for the Men’s World Cup in 2022 is slated to increase from $400 million this year, to $440 million.
It should be noted that there are many factors, mostly sponsorships which include broadcast rights, which determine the prize money.
The pay issue is not limited to the World Cup.
There is a considerable imbalance in the U.S Soccer Federation as well.
The fact is, the American women’s team outperforms the men.
This is the first time I have ever dealt with money issues in sports. I rarely, if ever, commented on the earnings of athletes, either in this forum or on any broadcast.
I may be off the mark, but I feel contracts and salary blunt the happenings on the field, even
though it may be newsworthy to readers and viewers.
My philosophy is simple.
If an owner of a team decides to pay an athlete a huge sum, good for him…or her.
If an athlete can sign for a huge sum, good for him…or her.
It takes two to tango. End of story.
But the soccer money is fascinating, considering the groundswell of what we’ve witnessed in the women’s game, and the incredible gap between the women and the men.
I don’t have the ultimate answer.
But there’s no question that closing the gap in a strongly significant way, has to be the first step.
The other issue deals with the actions of the American team on the field, or pitch, as it’s called in soccer.
We’ve talked about the over-the-top celebrations time and time again, during the opening match, 13-0 rout of Thailand.
I felt is was a little too much to pile it on each time after scoring so many goals.
Then, there was the taunt by Alex Morgan after scoring a goal against England.
Morgan mocked the American foe by using a hand motion of sipping tea.
Perhaps, all of this is a sign of the times.
Urged on by social media, apparently there are thousands, if not more, who crave actions that I believe represent a lack of class.
I may be in the vast minority. Maybe not.
Exulting after success may be a natural follow-up to a big moment.
But there should be some limits.
Taunting is obviously one of them.
Morgan, in her defense, pointed out how NFL players celebrate, often in outlandish ways, after scoring touchdowns.
The league has decided to allow their athletes to express themselves after reaching the end zone.
It is known that they are choreographed in precise fashion beforehand.
I have witnessed players on teams during a Friday practice session actually go through the routine they will display if they score a TD on Sunday.
I like to joke that they might spend more time doing that than actually practicing the play that will get them there. But that’s merely a joke.
Still, celebrating is one thing. Taunting is another.
The great NFL running back Jim Brown scored a bundle of touchdowns in his brilliant career.
When he did, he simply handed the ball to the official nearby.
You know what they say.
Act like you’ve been there before.
But times are different. And I realize it.
Finally, the practice of visiting the White House when you’ve been crowned a champion.
Megan Rapinoe, in speaking for the team said there would be no visit.
Here are my thoughts.
One, what if there’s someone on that team who would like to visit the White House.
An opportunity that might come once in a lifetime.
What teammate will object to her captain’s declaration, even if she disagrees?
Also, regardless who resides there, a visit to the White House is a fascinating experience.
Seeing it first-hand is truly special.
It really has nothing to do with who is President. Its the WHITE HOUSE for crying out loud!
I’ve been there.
Even when I didn’t vote for, or disliked who lived there.
It’s worth the experience.