As the Women’s World Cup continues to capture the attention of record numbers of viewers in the United States, most of whom have never paid a whit of attention to female athletes except those on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, outrage is building.
Did you see the thumping those U.S. women delivered to the poor girls from Thailand? Too many goals. Such poor taste, even though the World Cup format emphasizes the number of goals scored when it comes to deciding who goes to the knockout round of the tournament.
And how dare those U.S. women celebrate with wild abandon after scoring a goal on the world stage, especially in a game they won 13 to zip. It’s shameful, too much pride.
It’s not ladylike. My gracious, where are their manners?
One commentator said they would be remembered as the “villains” of the World Cup.
So, for all the little girls across Colorado who spend their after-school hours and weekends running sprints, juggling soccer balls and perfecting headers on fields that often are covered in snow well into the season, here’s a guide to appropriate behavior as you work your glutes off for the next 20 years.
Colorado’s Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh might be awesome role models for their skills, their athleticism and their competitive spirit, but remember, first and foremost, you want to be liked.
They’re villains, after all. Watch yourselves. Don’t be that good.
Instead, be nice. Take turns with the ball. Don’t run too fast. Don’t kick too hard.
Be careful not to bump into anybody. Say “excuse me” when you take the ball from an opponent.
Smile, but not too much. Whatever you do, don’t get caught on camera with that unpleasant resting bitch face.
Then again, don’t look too happy, especially if your team is winning. It’s unseemly.
Make sure your hair looks good. Don’t get sweaty.
Don’t stop too many of the other team’s goals or they might feel discouraged. It’s your job as a girl to make sure everybody feels good no matter how poorly your opponents might be playing.
Apologize when you score. If you score a lot of goals, maybe even give your opponents a gentle hug to boost their spirits.
If you develop some amazing moves in the hours and months and years of practice, don’t show them off. That’s gloating.
Tobin Heath’s nutmeg is incredible, but just think what it’s like to be the opponent getting outplayed like that. Do you think you’re better than she is? For shame!
Remember that every time the U.S. women perform well in the World Cup, criticism rains down on them. Do you want this to happen to you?
In 1999, when Brandi Chastain kicked the winning goal against China in the World Cup, she ripped off her shirt, dropped to her knees and whirled her jersey over her head in celebration.
Gracious! You could see her sports bra, her muscular abs, even her shoulders.
The outpouring of disgust was unrelenting. The critics called it a “babe move.” Some said Nike paid her for it as a publicity stunt. They refused to believe her when she explained that, just as with male soccer players, hers was a spontaneous primal celebration of a game-winning goal under intense personal pressure.
Do you want to face such hostility? Of course not.
Remember, losers don’t need to celebrate. It’s easier that way.
So be careful about being a winner.
Unless, of course, you can learn not to care about the crackpots on the sidelines and in the sports media who will never bring themselves to honor the women athletes whose superb performance should once and for all speak for itself.
If you can achieve that level of confidence and tenacity, despite all the social pressure to conform to some pre-Title IX, girdle-wearing idea of womanhood, then you can slide across the field on your knees, rip off your shirt, leap into the arms of your teammates and scream like an exuberant joyous phenomenal proud professional athlete.
Then, you’re finally free to be a champion.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.