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Monday, July 18, 2011

Women's World Cup: Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM

click to enlarge fifa_womens_world_cup_2011_1_1280x1024.jpg

Among the many painful lessons learned from the U.S. Women's World Cup squad's magical run and yesterday's utter collapse -- you can't legislate enthusiasm.

Local news stories painted a feel-good picture of yesterday's contest, which was broadcast before a moderate crowd at Civic Center Plaza on a big screen. The overriding message, once again, was that this isn't just a sporting event -- it's some sort of empowerment exercise for girls and young women.



This, for a lack of a better word, is getting old. We are doing a disservice to both the young women of America and the women on the team by reducing those handful of world-class athletes into role models for legions of girls who are already out on the soccer fields.

We send a questionable message to the younger generation when, as a society, we attempt to push an interest in women's sports as a top-down rather than a bottom-up exercise. The city's decision to erect large screens to watch the knockout rounds, as it did during the men's World Cup last year, was not a response to a demand but an act of reciprocal political correctness.

But, here's the thing: By playing so well, with such tenacity, with such skill and determination, and by producing two of the greatest wins any U.S. national team has yet authored -- the Women's World Cup squad created that demand. On Sunday, bars were teeming. Raucous screams echoed through the streets as well-struck American shots found the back of the net (it is a treat in this nation to be able to divine the score of a soccer match by bursts of crowd noise).

Our side lost the game -- oh, did it ever. But it didn't lose everything. It won thousands, hopefully millions of fans. Fans who'll follow this team not because of societal pressure or a sense of obligation but interest -- interest generated by three consecutive transcendent games and the promise of more.

They are, after all, our national team. Nothing more. And certainly nothing less.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more

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