This weekend’s victory was amazing. The USA Women’s Soccer Team blew us all out of our seats and made history as the highest scoring WWC game ever. But the question begs to be asked: Why do we call this “women’s soccer”? Why isn’t it just soccer? There are literally zero easy answers, but that leaves plenty of room for discussion. Make a point to talk to your kids about the US vs. Japan 5-2 victory.
In many leagues, co-ed is the only way for girls to get on a team. In small towns, there just may not be enough girls. In other towns, girls are discouraged from playing sports. Well-meaning parents, friends, and even teachers are looking out for our daughters, for a number of reasons. They want to protect their femininity, or they are worried their girls aren’t tough enough. Others just hold the classic view that it’s not lady-like to be athletic. I call bull-honkey.
The women who scored this historic victory are real people, socially active, and willing to tough it out. They are intelligent, capable role models, and they do it all with confident humility. They aren’t out to punish anyone else. They are there to prove themselves against the odds. That’s the kind of role model I think we all want for our kids.
Other than some hearty banter, I don’t think we’ll be getting the “women’s” title removed from their sports. It has many roots. Saying “women’s” gives a distinction from co-ed and men’s sports. It can be seen as degrading, but I see it as empowering. I’m willing to wager that the rock-stars who took the win this weekend won’t be thinking they are somehow less than the USA Men’s Team. They know that they took it. They took it for the whole world to see. I do, however, think that moving to saying “men’s” and “women’s” both would be a great compromise.
Sadly, the team that secured a #1 ranking on Sunday earned a fraction of what the men’s team won for coming in 27th. The funding isn’t there yet. The advertisers aren’t there yet. It takes time, but you can help. Watch games live with your kids. Make the advertisers invest in the teams. Show them who women really are, and support them. The financial equality fight isn’t going to end today. It won’t end tomorrow, or maybe even this decade. But it can get there.
For now, send your kids over to a highlight showing Carli Lloyd’s amazing 55-yard shot (the third video). She showed pure grit, strength, and talent. But don’t stop there. There were many women on the field, and every one of them worked for that victory. This game can be a starting point for conversations you might be having for years.