One of my favorite commercials of all time, “Everyday Football Fouls,” came out last summer in time for the men’s World Cup. Perhaps you saw it? ICYMI you must watch it again. Actually, watch it again even if you did see it last time around.
In every joke or stereotype there is usually more than a hint of truth, but in this case, it’s entirely true. Embellishment and acting have become so tied into men’s soccer that it borders on the absurd. Everyone is guilty. Well, not really, since Messi is famous for not going down so easily.
Contrast that the meme-of-the-day today, which juxtaposes German footballista Alexandra Popp’s bloodied head from last week’s semifinal against the USA with a picture a shot-in-the-back-of-the-leg male soccer player who is trying to buy a call from the referee. In that game, Popp’s head collided with that of Morgan Brian, and both ladies fell to the turf. After some triage and treatment, both women got up and kept playing, Popp with a bloodied bandage around her head. Remember that old streetball saying “No blood, no foul?” Well, in this case there was blood, but there was still no foul. And not only that, there was no flopping and no drama. Just toughness.
That incident, concussion protocol controversy aside, was completely representative. The past month of Women’s World Wup action was mostly free of the overacting and shenanigans that have become part and parcel of the men’s game, and coupled with the eminent likeability and lack of whining from the USWNT led to an absolute ratings bonanza for Fox. Don’t tell me people won’t watch women’s sports. Because they absolutely will, and they just did in record numbers.
Not only that, but USWMT coach Jill Ellis should be absolutely celebrated for managing to, for lack of a better term, bench Abby Wambach except for late-game subbing situations while still keeping her on the roster as a testament to her leadership and lifelong commitment to the national team. (Hey, Jurgen, don’t you think you could have found a similar role for Landon Donovan last summer? Don’t ya? Don’t ya?)
The Gold Cup starts tonight for the US Men's National Team, and the pressure is on thanks to their counterparts who just brought a trophy, and a third star for their jersey, home from Vancouver. Here’s hoping the men all learned a little something about football, toughness, and leadership from the ladies in red, white, and blue.