A Great Day For Women’s Athletics

I have my certain way of knowing if an event is indeed big time or not. If it is big time, I know that the country is simultaneously locked in on the event and I could pretty much walk into any house in America and the family I  would walk in on would actively be engaging in dialogue about the happenings. But wait, what is my method for knowing that the United States is locked in on an event? Simple, whenever Twitter gets backed up and a tweet that is sent out is not relayed to my cell phone for a good couple hours after it is initially sent I know something big has occurred. It happened with the Super Bowl, it happened with Bin Laden’s death, it happened with the Casey Anthony verdict just last week, and it happened again today.
Unless you drank so much last night that you never got out of bed or if you do not have television or if you are just one of those people who despises sports, you know what I am referring to. This morning (afternoon for those on the east coast), the United States Women’s National Soccer team kept their World Cup hopes alive as they stunned Brazil in one of the most engaging and suspenseful sporting events I have ever watched in my life. With the Americans all but left for dead, they miraculously scored in the 122nd minute of extra time to tie the game at 2-2. They would go on to win the shootout and advance to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Because I am a die hard sports fan and because I become even more obsessed when an American team is competing, I watched the whole game from start to finish. I was hooked. But you know what? So was the rest of the country. No, this game was not some niche that only soccer enthusiasts and single dudes with nothing better to do on a Sunday morning watched…it was a game that everyone watched. The whole game my phone was blowing up with Tweets centered on the U.S. vs. Brazil match. I logged onto Facebook probably four times throughout the game and each time I was on, my newsfeed was dominated with status updates about the game. By the time Brazil was given the phantom re-do on that penalty kick to pull ahead, Twitter was backed up.
I write this blog post tonight because of my desire to mark the positive turn women’s athletics in the United States took today. In a society where the coverage and interest of athletics is clearly focused on men,  this morning’s match pushed males to the side and for at least today and for the duration of the American’s tournament life, put females at the forefront of the athletic spectrum here in the United States. We are really going to need a helluva Home Run Derby and All-Star game for the discussion to be taken away from the American ladies. Again, I watched in amazement as the country’s interest in the Women’s World Cup heightened each minute that the match went on. It was remarkable to see the twists and turns that popped up throughout that match. Honestly, you can’t write that stuff.
I cheered my heart out this morning. As I watched in realtime the interest level of the nation go up, I cheered harder. It became very obvious that people were going to latch on to this World Cup deal for however long American was in it. For the sake of women’s athletics and for country pride, there was so much more riding on this game besides whether the Americans would experience their earliest exit in a World Cup competition or not. In dramatic fashion the Americans pulled through and guaranteed themselves at least a few more days as the country’s darlings. A big victory indeed.
I want to just touch on a few observations regarding the World Cup and the American team:
I tell you, sports announcing in other countries is so much different than in the United States, especially when it comes to soccer. After watching the men’s World Cup last year and then the women’s World Cup this year, it is pretty hilarious to listen to these English announcers call games. They hold nothing back, especially their judgment. They are absolutely ruthless on game officials. If there is a questionable call, they are going to go off. In America with a sport like baseball or football, a play-by-play announcer would be suspended if not fired if he went off on a crusade like some of these English announcers do. It is definitely different but it reminds me that different cultures do many things uniquely. Ian Darke, the guy who called the play-by-play of  the game today and who has done many of the other marquee games during this World Cup, would not let anyone forget about how the Americans got screwed on Brazil’s penalty kick that they shot twice. He made sure to keep the country’s anger boiling throughout the rest of the match. I liken English soccer play-by-play announcers to American sports talk radio hosts. They are big time personalities.
You want to know a reason why this American team is so much fun to watch? They have captivating, colorful athletes making up their roster. Not to mention gorgeous ones.  Heather Mitts and Alex Morgan are dead sexy.  Of course, Hope Solo (Richland, Washington represent!!) is a complete knockout. Talk about the total package. Okay, I do not want to be that shameless, testosterone driven guy though. The reality is, besides great looks the American team has personality. Abby Wambach is a woman who is on a mission and who is great with the press. Megan Rapione is also fun to watch and gives a great interview as well. These women are not robots. They are out there representing our country and having a great time doing it.
How about that Brazil player faking her injury towards the end of the game today? Probably one of the reasons why I am not the biggest soccer fan to begin with, I had never quite seen something that bush league in my life. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about one of Brazil’s players got “injured” in the closing minutes of the game today. In soccer, the clock does not stop as they add “extra time” to compensate at the end of regulation. Anyway, this player is down on the ground for around four minutes as they bring a stretcher on to take her off the field. Keep in mind, Brazil is nursing a one goal lead. Once she is loaded on the stretcher they take her off…the minute the people carrying her on the stretcher are off the field, she hops off the stretcher and later re-enters the game. Complete bunk.
Just want to again accentuate the drama that was played out this morning. From the time that Abby Wambach scored that tying goal to the shootout that advanced the Americans to the semi-finals, I really think that that sequence will go down in history as one of the most suspenseful moments in American sports. It was that good. Again, it really did bring the country together (thanks to social media) and made superstars out of Wambach and Hope Solo.
Way off topic but I have to get this in before closing up this post. Derek Jeter, congratulations on getting hit #3,000. You did it in grand fashion with hitting a home run to mark your milestone. I have to give big props to the fan who caught Derek Jeter’s #3,000th hit home run ball. With no questions asked, he gave the ball back to Jeter. Keep in mind, experts put the price of that ball at no less than six figures. Should I mention that the fan who caught that ball was 23 years old? I am honestly so impressed with the unselfishness and classiness of that guy. Yes, he did get four premium seats for the rest of the games at Yankee Stadium for the 2011 season but he could have gotten so much more. I put myself in his situation and of course while I am sitting right here in my comfortable living room I don’t hesitate in saying that I would give the ball back to Jeter as well but to be in the heat of the moment right after catching it I don’t know if my good intentions would hold up. You are one good man Mr. Twenty-Three Year Old.
I can’t wait for Wednesday. Actually, I can’t wait until tomorrow! Home Run Derby on Monday, MLB All-Star game on Tuesday, and World Cup soccer on Wednesday. Going to be a great week in sports. Remember, in order not to miss it, do one thing: Don’t Blink.

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