Congratulations to the U.S. women’s soccer team, which won the gold medal on Thursday in Athens. The last five of the leading players from the 1991 World Cup team are retiring after this game.
I think C. W. Nevius in the San Francisco Chronicle got it right when he wrote about the silent revolution that the now-retiring leaders of this soccer team have helped bring about.
When I was in high school — and how fondly I remember those stagecoach rides to class, where we would study about our president Warren G. Harding — there were basically no sports for women. There was gymnastics, for a tiny hard core, and there was cheerleading. That was it. If you couldn’t do a back flip off a mat or execute a perfect bob flip with your hair you were out of luck.
Now certainly there are lots of factors for the rise of women’s sports, from Title IX to pushy parents. Hamm, Chastain, Foudy and Fawcett didn’t change that. But they made it cool.
I really appreciate what these women have accomplished, having always been “a jock” myself. Now, I’m not that old, so we had a pretty good complement of women’s sports in my high school. I played on the first lacrosse team we had (and scored the first goal in that team’s history, BTW) my senior year. We didn’t have hockey, which was what I wanted to play when I wasn’t playing soccer, but I think that was more of a regional thing in the early ’80s than anything else.
But even since then, things have changed, and I think these women deserve a lot of the credit. I do wish Nevius had mentioned Brianna Scurry, though, because she is an amazing goalie, and deserves just as much credit and acclaim as her teammates.
I also like Nevius’s conclusion, discussing U.S. soccer player Mia Hamm:
A few years ago Hamm was at a charity event at Harvard. It was a celebrity penalty kick competition. Among those kicking was (then) Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Hamm beat him. And then, not long afterward, they were married.
Garciaparra didn’t have a problem with a strong woman. In fact, it seems hardly anyone does anymore.
That’s the revolution.