Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rachel Gets It ALL WRONG About "Dudes" And Women's Sports ... But She's Cute About It

On Monday, Rachel had a "Best Thing In The World" segment featuring fan reaction to the USA women's EPIC and HEROIC quarterfinal victory over Brazil in the Women's World Cup. I've seen a lot of World Cup matches, for both men and women, and this one ranks right up there with one of the great games in the history of football. ("Soccer" is an absurd American "improper name" anachronism for a game that is played more than 90 percent of the time with one's feet.)

But then, Rachel said this:
One of the things that is surprisingly satisfying, I don‘t, maybe in a feminist context about this, is to see all these dudes super psyched for the Women's World Cup victory.  In women's sports, it is so often caricatured that the only people who care about women's sports are women.  And so, the economics of women sports are often, I think caricatured as being untenable because women aren't as into sports as men are, and you can't possibly expect men to cheer for women.

And so, even though this is just some guy‘s YouTube video, collecting people's reaction to the Women‘s World Cup victory, let this maybe the thing that sets to rest forever the idea that dudes don't like women playing sports really, really well—really cool.
Rachel Rachel ... To say dudes aren't into women's sports is beyond ridiculous! It's so passé, so 1990s ... c'mon. First, men's perception of women's "soccer" in this country was forever changed when the U.S. hosted the Women's World Cup in 1999. It electrified the nation and filled the stadiums with sellout crowds that were evenly divided between men and women, boys and girls. The final at the LA Coliseum drew a crowd in excess of 90,185. That was a record for a women's sporting event, and it happened 12 years ago.

Second, us dudes have been "super-psyched" about women's sports at a high level, for a long time. The WNBA is a successful, profitable professional women's basketball league. I've seen lots of dudes at those events. In addition, there are all the Olympic events in which women stars shine as brightly as the men in parallel sports. And women's tennis, though not strictly speaking a team sport, has been a huge draw for decades, with the skill level and shot-making on a par with the men's game. Billie Jean King put that one to rest when she humiliated Bobby Riggs back in 1973. Were you even born then?

A week ago, when the Brazilian men's football team stumbled against lowly Paraguay in the Copa America, the fans started calling out for Marta, best women's player in the world, to get in the game. The Brazilian press and dude fandom have been closely following the Women's World Cup. They've already crowned Hope Solo the "Muse of The Cup" and have at least three good reasons to follow the USA women:

Kidding, kidding ... but I couldn't resist. 

Anyway, the USA meets Japan in the final. Japan is the Cinderella team of this Cup, not only because they beat the defending champs and host nation, Germany, but because their road to the final has been such a morale boost for a country ravaged by a calamitous tsunami and nuclear catastrophe. 

Realistically, though, I don't see how the U.S. women can lose. They have a great keeper in Solo, the best in the world, an excellent defense, and a pure "predatory" striker in Abby Wambaugh. She's deadly in the air and the Japanese women just don't have anyone who can stop her. Plus the USA women have lotsa heart, that intangible, and a Zen-like coach in Pia Sundhage who is a wizard at calibrating her team's fervor. They're peaking at the right time. And those are the teams that usually win.

No comments: