Advertisement

Bird Brown: Don't like U.S. women's soccer celebrating? Stop them from scoring

Thirteen to zero. Blah, blah, blah. Wah, wah, wah.

That’s all I’ve been hearing all week since the U.S. women’s national team thrashed Thailand in their opening game of the Women’s World Cup in France. I ran home at the end of school to catch the USWNT play its first game toward defending the title, and was excited to see a national soccer team play that actually has a chance to win.

Advertisement

By the time it was 8-0 early in the second half, I had to run errands so I didn’t see them pile on the score, or the “excessive” celebrations that followed goal after goal while the Thai women stood in frustration and awe.

But I sure have heard about it.

One of the things I miss from youth sports is the youngest of players and the innocence of the competitions that accompany them. The coolest day of the year at that age is when they get their first uniform, a bright-colored T-shirt with a big number on the back, the same one that their new best friends from their team are wearing.

Everyone plays the same amount of time on the field, everyone plays different positions, score is really not kept (although there’s that one parent, and even a couple of the players, who knows exactly what the score is), and if one side seems to be more dominant, coaches make adjustments to slow the game down and minimize the blowouts.

When the game is over, not one kid remembers the score because the Rice Krispies treats and juice boxes steal their attention.

The older you get the more competitive the games may be and more intense the effort of the players as they battle their hormones and their opponents on the field. As kids begin to hit adolescence, the atmosphere necessarily has to change. Play becomes more physical and athletic and the concept of winning the game becomes more important in the hearts of the players.

The day you get your jersey is still pretty cool and every time you put it on for game day is the same. The only cooler thing I can see is John Neubert’s glow ball games at the end of the season for the local recreation players. Score matters and leagues keep track to award league champions.

In high school, the competitiveness continues to rise as the player pool narrows through the player selection process and the emphasis in more on physical fitness, speed, and intensity of the game. The atmosphere is still one of education-based competition so there is a good amount of emphasis on what a student-athlete can learn from situations so you play and coach differently than you might on say your club team of the same age.

I remember a game when I coached the girls where we defeated the No. 1 seed in our section 12-0. After the game got to 4-0, in order for our team to score, everyone on the field had to touch the ball behind midfield and then everyone but the goalkeeper had to touch the ball on the offensive side of the field before we could shoot.

If the other team touched the ball, we had to go all the way back to the keeper to start over.

And we still won 12-0.

I do believe there are situations where it is necessary to play the sportsmanship card and take actions to minimize blowouts and not show up your opponent, but playing in the world championship to determine who is the best team in the world is not one of them.

Humans like to compete and to show not just in sports but in theater, movies, music, and work that we are the best at what we do. Why else would you have awards shows and award trophies to the winners?

Our women’s national team has been preparing for this moment not just for the last month, the last year, or even since the last World Cup.

Advertisement

These ladies have been preparing for this moment for their entire lives. Every one of these girls strapped on their cleats for the first time thinking they were going to be the next Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, or Julie Fowdy.

They wore their USWNT jerseys to the games at RFK and Giants Stadium, and all across this country, to show their support and to hope that one day, they too would have the opportunity to represent their country in the World Cup against the best players in the world. They sacrificed in their personal lives to focus on their dreams and here they’ve made what every one of them set out to do.

The coach should hold them back from scoring more goals? Ha.

Don’t like their “excessive” celebrations? Don’t let them score more goals.

But to criticize our women for being the best at their chosen craft and demonstrating their dominance that comes from years of training and sacrifice to fulfill their dream makes me sick.

I think I’m going to take a knee.

Advertisement
Advertisement