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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

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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