FIFA 2015: Girl Power!

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It had been four long years since the USA Women’s Soccer Team had been in the FIFA Championship facing a very fierce opponent in Japan…and lost…on penalty kicks no less!  But that was so 2011!  Now here we are in the middle part of 2015…and after a superbly dominating effort on their behalf….the ladies are World Cup Champions….leaving Japan to settle for the runner-up category! 

I will readily admit, soccer is not at the forefront of the sports I routinely watch.  However, when I do…more often than not, I’m fascinated by the pace of the game and the athleticism of the players.  On a Sunday night in July….as the number of contenders was decreasing across the pond in Wimbledon and baseball fans were frantically casting votes for All-Star rosters….the streak of fascination continued. 

It was so easy to become wrapped up in the journey of this team.  Girl power and pride for country all rolled up into one!  Throw in a dose of awesome and it is a powerful mix!!  As with all sports…seeing offensive and defensive strategies executed in such a seamless fashion captivated my attention through regulation and stoppage time!  

As the USA Team continues to enjoy all of the pomp and circumstance they so rightfully deserve…two other topics have managed to emerge and captivate my attention too:

A lot of fuss was made about a comment made on the FIFA website regarding one of the USA team member’s looks.   Funny thing is, I’d said how attractive I thought she was was that very same day!  My observation was a. a matter of opinion and b. not intended to take away from her strength as a player…quite frankly, it couldn’t.  Her level of attractiveness does not make her more skilled any more so than her skill level could make her attractive. 

I’m not blind to sexism and sure don’t want to oversimplify things.  Instead, it would be great if a compliment could be seen as nothing more and nothing less than a compliment.  At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I do feel as though organization’s have a responsibility to communicate messages in a much more responsible manner than someone sitting in their living room.  The masses…specifically young girls….should not be made to feel as though their looks are the only value they possess! 

The other topic is the pay gap between male and female athletes.  In many ways, this trend is no different than any other industry with one big exception…..scales in the entertainment industry are driven by the market.  I’ve never had a problem with how much athletes…nor movie stars, for that matter…are compensated.  They are getting what the market will bear….television revenue, advertisements, jersey and ticket sales just to name a few.  If we want to see an increase in the earning potential of female athletes, we need to consistently support their sports!

At its peak, the television audience grew to 31 million for the FIFA Championship…the most watched soccer game in U.S. history!  It will be interesting to see if that level of enthusiasm translates to increased support of women’s sports across the board!

In the meantime, the more serious issues haven’t taken the pep out of the steps of our USA Women’s Team!  That sure is good to see.  Enjoy the fruits of your hard work ladies. Congratulations again and again!!!

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