Since the Americans took home the crown at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, there have been a steady mantra of how inspirational the US team are for young girls. They are much more than that.
As the seconds ticked off the clock, and the pure awe of the US Women’s World Cup team’s domination began to sink in, we were witnesses to many great “moments.”
In the early minutes we watched Carli Lloyd play like a woman possessed. Lloyd garnered a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of play, including a long range bomb that would have made Adam Vinatierri look like a high schooler. Lloyd would leave Canada with possibly the greatest goal in soccer history and the first hat trick in a World Cup Final.
After halftime, the US watched their lead dwindle to two. A few moments later, Tobin Heath put one in the back of the net and the celebration began.
Once the game ended, we marveled at how far we’ve come as a country, with the kiss between Abby Wambach and her wife, Sarah Huffman.
As the reports began to file in, the one phrase that gained more and more traction was how inspirational this team was to little girls.
While this statement is true, it belittles the effort put forth by these women.
When Michael Jordan won his sixth NBA championship, I can’t recall hearing anyone mention what an inspiration the North Carolina native was to men. When the Jackie Robinson West baseball team made it to the Little League World Series, they were an inspiration to the country, not to American boys. It seems all anecdotes revolved around fathers gathering their daughters around the television set to enliven the dreams of young girls around the country.
This, however is not the true inspiration.
These American women are changing the landscape of soccer in this country and we’re all too set in our old ways to notice or acknowledge it.
26.7 million people watched the Americans defeat Japan 5-2. It was the most watched soccer game in the history of American television. Fox announced on Monday that its English-language coverage drew a 12.9 rating and was seen by an average of 25.4 million. NBC’s Telemundo said its telecast averaged 1.27 million. The audience peaked at 30.9 million from 8:30-8:45 p.m. (Eastern) as the game neared its end, and 43.2 million tuned into some portion of the match.
To put that in perspective, Fox’s audience for the final exceeded the viewers for San Francisco’s win over Kansas City in Game 7 of last year’s World Series on Fox (23.5 million), Golden State’s NBA title-winning victory over Cleveland last month on ABC (23,254,000) and Chicago’s Stanley Cup-winning victory in Game 6 over Tampa Bay last month on NBC (8,005,000). It was the highest for any U.S. broadcast since an average of 28.3 million saw Duke beat Wisconsin on CBS to win the NCAA men’s basketball title in April.
It seems, however, these numbers only translated to “inspiration towards girls.” That, my friends, are a lot of girls.
Unfortunately, the views of our country run hand in hand with who holds the power. Unfortunately, our society’s power is in the hands of the men in this country.
Ultimately, the task of bringing our country forward lies in the hands of us who believe in true equality. It involves calling out ESPN for only 2% of its 2014 SportsCenter airtime going to women. Or ESPN The Magazine’s cover being dominated by men, unless it’s the Body Issue which has consistently featured a woman athlete on it’s cover, naked.
Many of the women who fight for their country receive little or no support from their home football federation, excluding the US. The prize money for the women’s World Cup was 1/17 the total of the men’s side.
The excellence put forth by women is not an inspiration for the female gender solely. It should be an inspiration for us all. Fathers should bring their boys around the television to watch the American women do what the men have failed to ever come close to doing.
The future of American society lies with the inspired, and you shouldn’t have to be solely inspired by your own personal demographic.
A gay teenager in South Dakota should be inspired by Huffman and Wambach’s kiss.
Those from New Jersey should be inspired by the 4 Garden State natives who took to the pitch for the World Champions.
The US Men’s National team should be inspired to reach these heights that the women consistently achieve.
Casual fans should be inspired to watch “the beautiful game”played without dives, without ego, but with pure heart and determination.
It’s time all of us step up and fight for the women who fight for us. It’s time to be inspired. And I mean everyone.
Photo Credit: US Soccer
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