I became enamored with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) when they won over the hearts of many during a miraculous win over Brazil in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Unfortunately the USWNT lost in the finals against Japan in penalty kicks. Despite the loss, the USWNT was greeted with a warm welcome and a spike in nationwide interest in women’s soccer. I have always been upset with the way people view women’s soccer. Many times women soccer players are seen as weaker and slower and unable to keep up with male soccer players. I disagree to a degree. I don’t really enjoy watching some of the men’s professionl soccer games because they can become so melodramatic. Half the time they throw themselves on the ground asking for a non-call. If you see a female player doing that on the field they get chastised. It’s almost expected that women have the “male” mentality when they get hurt on the field. A common phrase among my teammates when we get knocked around or cut up is, “Be a man. Rub some dirt in it!” And we get back up running. Men are allowed to take their time getting up without being seen as weak to onlookers. The expectations for behavior create an unequal playing field that demeans the quality of women’s professional soccer. I do admit that women’s soccer is slower pace, but that does not take away from the drama that ensues when the USWNT steps on the field — buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Before the 2012 Summer olympics came olympic qualifying games. The U.S. Men’s team fell short and was unable to qualify, but the U.S. Women’s team came out undefeated. I watched every single game that I could get my hands on and I was never disappointed by what I watched. Once the olympics started I planned my schedule around every single women’s soccer match, especially the USWNT’s games. The USWNT won a gut wrenching, emotional, yet exhilarating semi-final match against Canada that secured the U.S. a spot in the finals, a rematch against Japan – the reigning world champions. We defeated Japan 2-1 and received gold, the third consecutive olympic gold in women’s soccer. However, back in May, the Women’s Professional Soccer league announced a permanent suspension of operation for the upcoming season. According to the WPS press release, the league had put too much money into legal issues. The highly unprofessional team manager of MagicJack filed suit against the league and the WPS did not have the funds to support a counterattack and run the league at the same time. They also didn’t want to run the risk of working with him during the season and regretfully saw no other way out of their situation.
I hate that some team managers feel the need to power play even when they are in a position of power. Not only does it hurt the image of U.S. Women’s soccer, but it also hurts the players. A comment was made in an ESPN article that the suspension of the professional league was positive because it provides the USWNT more time to play together, but I think that’s a poor response to this inherent problem. The USWNT made a name for Women’s soccer and I find the fact that they doesn’t have a professional league to come home to insulting. Our national team is doing something wonderful for the sport of soccer and they have no way of keeping the interest alive outside of national games. Fortunately, there is talk of the formation of a new league in the Spring of 2013. For now I will grumble about not being able to watch Atlanta Beat games, the local WPS team, and be content with watching the USWNT whenever I can.