Kay: And Now for a Fairy Tale Ending

U.S. women's team in the championship game, July 5, 2015. Copyright 2015 Miami Herald

U.S. women’s team in the championship game, July 5, 2015. Copyright 2015 Miami Herald

I’m going off topic today, but in the wake of the U.S. women’s soccer team beating Japan in the FIFA world championship this past Sunday before 53,300 fans, I can’t resist.

I was on the phone the other day with a friend I went to college with, a long time ago. She reminded me of a conversation we’d had then about feminism and what it would look like in our old age. (“We said thirty years!” she said.)

One thing we said: Female athletes would play in huge stadiums, and men would cheer in the stands. Here’s how that prediction played out:

U.S. women's team celebrates a goal in the championship game July 5, 2015. Copyright 2015 Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

U.S. women’s team celebrates a goal in the championship game July 5, 2015. Copyright 2015 Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Fox Broadcasting, which aired the event, reported that Sunday’s match had more U.S. viewers than any other soccer match in U.S. TV history, peaking at 22.86 million. To compare, Game 7 of the 2014 World Series attracted 23.5 million viewers—far more than any other game of the 2014 series.

The feminist goals that many fought for have not all been achieved. Women’s sports have not achieved parity with men’s sports. And attitudes are slow to change. (After England placed third, the British Football Association tweeted, “Our #Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title—heroes.” Would male athletes be described as “fathers, partners and sons” in the wake of a third-place victory? I doubt it.)

But watching those women play—and the crowds that cheered them on—was a reward in itself, no matter who won. Congratulations to the women! Fairy tales—even fractured ones—can come true.

7 thoughts on “Kay: And Now for a Fairy Tale Ending

  1. (-: Isn’t that great? Women have been in sport for a very long time (I’ve got a picture of a woman in a sailor suit playing basketball at the turn of the last century). It’s really cool to see soccer women getting this boost. The same sort of situation exists in Japan — women’s sports (aside from figure skating) don’t get a lot of boost. But the women’s team has almost gotten more press than the men’s soccer team, I think.

    I just read my first romance where the heroine was a very active woman — a former rower as a matter of fact (Kristan Higgins’ “Just One of the Guys”). (-: Could be a cool theme for a contemporary series — the soccer team in love!

  2. Thank you Title IX. Although the US Women’s National Team is getting $2 million for winning and men’s teams get $8 million if they go out in the first round. Some of the female players make as little as $7,000/year playing pro soccer in the U.S. with the salary cap at a little less than $70,000. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands that male players make.

    • Yes, we’re a long, long way from parity. But I’m with you–Title IX has made all the difference. When I think back to my college days—when women weren’t allowed to swim in the new, 10-lane, Olympic-sized swimming pool, but had to swim in the four-lane, fifteen-yard pool in the basement of the oldest women’s dorm—it makes my ears bleed. Did they charge less tuition? Of course not. Of course, this was one of the things we changed, even before Title IX. But no question women’s sports (and other opportunities) have really advanced because of it.

  3. Yep, the English FA tweet was an own goal 🙂 but the upside is that at least somebody realised it in fairly short order, deleted it and said sorry for their well-intentioned blunder.

    My seventeen year-old niece, who lives in the Caribbean, is a fabulous soccer player and a demon striker. We watched her play in the final of a tournament last year, and there was a healthy crowd of soccer dads as well as mums, all cheering for their daughters. My niece’s male friends think it’s great that she plays soccer herself instead of/as well as standing on the touchline looking pretty and cheering them. And after school finished she went with her team to a week’s soccer camp in Miami, and nobody saw anything unusual in it. I thought it was great.

  4. That is great. So, so glad to hear that teenaged girls think playing soccer (sweating!) is a girl thing, aren’t ragged on for playing sports, and the boys think it’s cool, too.

  5. Pingback: Jilly: Misty’s Mantra | Eight Ladies Writing

Let Us Know What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s