The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was won by Team U.S.A in France earlier this summer. Much has been made surrounding this team both on and off the field. So, here I am many weeks late to tell you how I feel about the U.S. women’s national team.
The controversy surrounding the team began even before they took the field. They have been fighting for equal pay for quite some time. This is a very complex issue and I don’t have the answer, however, one argument that I keep hearing is about how the women’s team is so much better than the men’s team. I think this is a silly reason for why they should get paid more, but I think there is something interesting going on here.
For the most part, soccer is the premier sport for women in the U.S. Because of this, the best female athletes in the U.S. play soccer. Soccer is far from the premier sport for men in the U.S. LeBron James is not a soccer player, Patrick Mahomes is not a soccer player, Mike Trout is not a soccer player. If they were perhaps the U.S. men’s national team would be better, but they get paid much more to play other sports.
I am not saying that is a valid reason for them to get paid less. If you want them to get paid the same as the men it should be because that is what you think is right, not because they’re better. There are plenty of people who get paid to do things they are not very good at.
The controversy continued into their first match against Thailand when they won 13-0. That’s right, they scored 13 times in a soccer game. Many people and analysts were upset (some were outraged) that the U.S. women ran up the score against Thailand and that they celebrated the 11th, 12th and 13th goals with gusto.
In sports, ‘running up the score’ are fighting words. To accuse someone of this is to say they are being arrogant and disrespectful. I think it would have been more disrespectful if the U.S. women had just kicked the ball around in their own half instead of attacking. Furthermore, in soccer, it is advantageous to have more goals to improve your scoring differential as that is the first tiebreaker in seeding for knockout play. Usually, a team does not need 13 goals to have a good differential — most of the time around five will do. In my opinion, this is fine and in the words of Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game.” You don’t play to be nice and the only game in which it is acceptable to apologize is the board game “Sorry.”
After that, the U.S. women proceeded to make quick work of the rest of the tournament. They won the final match against The Netherlands 2-0. One thing I noticed that hasn’t been brought up is the fact that many of their goals came on penalty kicks during the tournament. In fact, the decisive goal in the final match was a penalty kick and in the match against Spain, both goals were from the penalty spot. I wish there was another way in which penalty kicks were done. They always feel very cheap to me. How hard is it to put the ball into the goal from 11 meters away with only the goalie to stop it? I feel like there is a better way this could be done. A goal is a goal though.
The U.S. women’s national team did a good job. They were expected to win and they won. It just wouldn’t be U.S. sports if we didn’t make some controversy about it.