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:
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.